The Indian women’s cricket team continued its good form in Test cricket as after humbling England by 347 runs last week, the Harmanpreet Kaur-led side was at it again at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Thursday, December 21. Australian captain Alyssa Healy won the toss and chose to bat but the visitors ran into a raging Pooja Vastrakar, who seamed, wobbled and swung her way to four wickets. India bowled out Australia for a paltry score of 219 and tracked down 98 of those on the first day itself.
The day began on an unfortunate note for the Australians with the run out of Phoebe Litchfield in the very first over. It didn’t take time for the hosts to get the second wicket, that too a big one of Ellyse Perry as Vastrakar dismissed her with a corker of a delivery that came back in to shatter her stumps. Beth Mooney and the new vice-captain Tahlia McGrath stitched an 80-run stand for the third wicket and helped Australia get to much safer shores. McGrath completed her half-century but immediately after Sneh Rana got rid of her.
Mooney too got out after a few overs as Vastrakar got her second. Captain Alyssa Healy scored 38 but couldn’t stay for long, which was the case for most of the Australian batters as most of them got starts but couldn’t convert. Vastrakar broke Australian batting’s back with back-to-back wickets of Ash Gardner and Annabelle Sutherland to leave Australia tottering at 168/8. It seemed like Australia would fold below 200 before Kim Garth held the fort at the end to help her side get to 219, which was still a very modest total. Vastrakar finished with the figures of 4/53 while Sneh Rana picked up three.
Indian openers Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma came out all guns blazing as they had a 90-run stand in just 16.4 overs. It would have been a perfect day for India had the openers come out at the stumps unscathed, however, Shafali was trapped LBW by Jess Jonassen. Sneh was sent as the night watcher with Smriti unbeaten at 43. India will be looking to take a massive first-innings lead against the Aussies to bat them out of the game.
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