India and their premier bowler Jhulan Goswami failed to keep their nerves in a dramatic final over as Beth Mooney’s brilliant unbeaten hundred ensured a five-wicket win for Australia — their 26th on the trot — in the second women’s ODI, on Friday. Australia thus took a 2-0 lead in the three-match WODI series and India’s fragile bowling attack will now come under the scanner. It was a match that was in India’s pocket till the 25th over of the Australian innings but Mooney, with an unbeaten 125, stunned the visitors in the third-highest chase of all-time in women’s cricket by knocking off a target of 275.
In fact, the Indian team prematurely celebrated when Goswami’s waist high full-toss was hit straight to mid-wicket by Mooney but, to their horror, it turned out to be a no-ball. It was marginal as Goswami’s last ball was sent towards wide long-on for a couple to finish the match.
With 13 needed off the last over, old guard Goswami was handed the ball with Mooney (125 off 133 balls) and Nicola Carey (39 not out off 38 balls) on the rampage on a dew-laden night.
Keeper Richa Ghosh and Poonam Yadav were put under extreme pressure as they got five off first two and Goswami accidentally bowled a beamer that hit Carey flush on the helmet with the umpire rightly signalling a no-ball.
Ghosh’s inexperience once came through as she missed a run-out when five were required off last two balls as the no-ball drama changed the course of the game. But it was more about poor show from Indian spinners Deepti Sharma and Poonam Yadav that led to Australia making a comeback after being 52 for 4.
It was the highest total scored against Australia since their winning streak started in 2018 but Indian bowlers undid all the good job by the batters. Goswami bowled an absolute ripper that cut Alyssa Healy (0) into half while skipper Meg Lanning (6) was dismissed by Meghna Singh when Rajeshwari Gayakwad took a fine catch in the deep.
Puja Vastrakar then effected a diving run out of Elyse Perry while Gayakwad got her name on wicket-taker’s list to see the back of Ashleigh Gardner with the Southern Stars reeling. Mooney and Tahlia McGrath (74 off 77 balls) consolidated in style during their 126-run fifth-wicket stand.
While Gayakwad was steady with her wicket-to-wicket lines, young Meghna and seasoned Jhulan also tried keeping things tight. Yadav (6-0-38-0), who has not been in best of form throughout 2021, and Sharma (9-0-60-1) were not very consistent with their lines in their first spells as runs started flowing post the 25th over.
Ditto for Puja Vastrakar (8-0-43-1), who also erred in length, giving away a lot of boundary balls. India finally had some luck going their way when Sharma bowled a rubbish half-tracker which McGrath deposited it in the hands of Yastika Bhatia at short fine-leg. However, in the 42nd over bowled by Vastrakar, the seasoned Mooney got two boundaries to put Mithali Raj’s brigade under real pressure.
Earlier, Mandhana hit a fluent 86 to guide India to a competitive 274 for 7 as India batters gave a far better account of themselves compared to the first WODI. Mandhana hit 11 boundaries to register her 19th half-century after the visitors were sent in to bat. She shared two crucial partnerships — 76 runs with Richa Ghosh (44) and 74 runs with Shafali Verma (22) — to help India set up a good total.
India were off to a flying start with Mandhana and Shafali (22) racing to 68/0 in the first 10 overs, their best in the 10 ODIs they have played this year. But the threatening opening stand was soon broken by spinner Sophie Molineux in the 12th over as she dismissed the latter.
A mix up then led to skipper Mithali Raj’s (8) run out followed by Yastika Bhatia’s (3) departure as the hosts made a strong comeback. Mandhana and Ghosh then steadied the ship, keeping the scoreboard ticking but the opener sliced it straight to point which marked the end of her innings.
Pooja Vastrakar (29) and Jhulan Goswami (28 not out) added 53 runs to help India breach the 250-run mark. Tahlia McGrath (3/45) was the pick of the bowlers for Australia with Molineux (2/28) picking two wickets.
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