Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Fluent Mandhana studs India's opening day of dominance. Smriti Mandhana put on 93 for the first wicket with Shafali Verma.
Smriti Mandhana put on 93 for the first wicket with Shafali Verma.
Smriti Mandhana's career-best 80 not out set the tone as India dominated the proceedings on their pink-ball debut, on a rain-curtailed opening day of the one-off Test versus Australia in Gold Coast on Thursday. Put in to bat first, India had 101/1 on the board by the Dinner before periodic heavy showers, as predicted in the lead up to the game, lashed the ground to wash out all but 11 overs of the remainder of the day. At forced stumps, India had progressed to 132/1 from the 44.1 overs that were possible.
India made the tough call of leaving out spin-bowling allrounder Sneh Rana despite her Bristol heroics, in favour of left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad, while presenting maiden caps to Yastika Bhatia and Meghna Singh. Australia meanwhile handed out four baggy greens, bringing in Annabel Sutherland, Darcie Brown and Stella Campbell to bolster their pace attack, alongside legspinner Georgia Wareham.
Despite the chorus of lack of pink-ball practice, it was India who aced their time on the field with it partly due to Australia's lack of discipline but mostly due to a very fluent Mandhana who raced to a 51-ball fifty before Australia could find ways to apply the breaks.
Australia's plans went awry in the opening hour as their pacers erred in their lines and length to Mandhana who made them pay a heavy price for it by generously peppering the off-side boundary. The new-ball pair bowled too short and offered plenty of width, allowing the southpaw to settle in comfortably and take full toll. Despite a few false shots early on, the opener got going with a strong pull through midwicket off Brown's first Test delivery, following it up with four more boundaries off her in the eighth over. So fluent was Mandhana that India had 70 on the board already by the drinks break, with a contribution of 51 from her bat alone.
If Mandhana was fed all the looseners, Shafali Verma had all the luck shining on her as Australia didn't have the best of mornings as a fielding unit either. Meg Lanning alone was guilty of reprieving Verma twice in slips, on 3 and 19, while debutant Sutherland grassed a sitter at mid-on when the opener was on 25. However, the hosts finally managed to get a hand on the wheel for the first time in the contest with the introduction of spin.
Sophie Molineux and later Ashleigh Gardner bowled superbly to their fields to plug the run-scoring opportunities as India picked only 31 in the next 18 before dinner. The discipline also brought a much-needed breakthrough as Molineux got third third time lucky. Verma, looking to break free, swiped a flighted delivery across the line and sliced it straight to Tahila McGrath at mid-off, bringing curtains on the opening stand of 93 that came in just 25 overs.
The squeeze continued on either side of dinner until lightning, followed closely by a sharp spell of rain that lashed the Metricon stadium. The play was held up for nearly two hours, threatening to halt India's momentum but Mandhana resumed with the same fluency. McGrath continued to rattle her with short balls though without any protection on the square leg fence; India's opener continued to make merry – fetching a six and a four to go past her previous best Test score of 78. Punam Raut, who had only 1 off 22 until then, too helped herself to the first boundary by lofting Gardner over midwicket as Australia struggled for control again. To their relief though, rain returned right on cue to force early Tea.
However, the weather only got progressively worse, forcing the authorities to abandon the rest of the day's play. The remaining three days of the game will now begin half an hour early.
Brief scores: India 132/1 (Smriti Mandhana 80*, Shafali Verma 31; Sophie Molineux 1-18) vs Australia.