Australia Hold On To Two-point Lead With Drawn Test

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Australia hold on to two-point lead with drawn Test. Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry saw Australia off to the final hour before deciding to shake hands.

Australia Hold On To Two-point Lead With Drawn TestMeg Lanning and Ellyse Perry saw Australia off to the final hour before deciding to shake hands.

Australia managed to hold on to their two-point lead in the multi-format series but it was India who took the honours in the drawn standalone pink-ball Test, in Gold Coast on Sunday, to stretch their unbeaten streak in the longest format to six matches.

After Australia decided to spice up the contest with a bold declaration at the stroke of Dinner, having just avoided the follow-on, India added 135/3 to their existing lead of 136 that left the hosts with 272 to get in the final 32 overs of the rain-truncated game. The hosts had their openers dismissed in quick succession, but Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry safely saw them off to the final hour before the two captains decided to split the four points equally.

India's search for quick runs in the second session pushed Australia into a defensive approach and run-saving mode rather than wicket-taking one. After consuming about three overs to get their eye in, openers Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma gave India a quick start, dealing mostly in boundaries. Few of those were lucky ones where edges either evaded slip fielders or landed in unmanned regions, while some were freebies as Australia continued bowling short to Mandhana with all the protection on the off-side. Riding their luck, the pair raised a quick fifty stand inside 15 overs and took India's lead past 200 in the 17th.

Against the run of play, then, Mandhana fell to Sophie Molineux, slog-sweeping a slot ball only for Ash Gardner to pluck it inches off the ground in a stunning diving effort in the deep. Gardner then herself bowled newly promoted Yastika Bhatia as India ploy to keep the scoring rate up backfired. To further slow India down, Georgia Wareham opened her account in Tests with Verma trapped LBW soon after Tea, having just notched up her third Test fifty in four innings on the other side of the interval.

Nonetheless, a well-set Raut stepped up and shifted gears by punishing two full-tosses from Wareham to push the lead past 250. She added two more boundaries to her tally before being called in.

Australia were tasked with either surviving 32 overs or ambitiously chasing 272, both of which seemed increasingly unlikely with points on stake. India continued to push though, with Jhulan Goswammi getting the better of Alyssa Healy for the second time in this match and Beth Mooney top-edging a pull off Pooja Vastrakar in the space of 20 runs.

However, eight wickets in the final 50 minutes were always going to be bit of a stretch for India. Lanning looked on patiently at the drinks break as Mithali Raj thoroughly consulted her stand-in deputy Mandhana before the duo finally shook hands. The draw ensures India's unbeaten streak in the format now stands at six matches.

Earlier in the day, Ellyse Perry's fourth successive Test fifty and Gardner's maiden helped Australia save the follow-on before the hosts boldly declared on 241/9 – still 136 behind India – following a dramatic collapse of 5 for 32 in the hour leading up to Dinner.

Reprieved on 58 and 61, after getting two lives yesterday, Perry continued to live the charmed life enroute an unbeaten 68, guiding the lower order through a challenging swing-bowling test from the Indian pacers after they availed the second new ball rightaway. Perry's 155-ball half-century, Australia's 200 and Gardner's 80-ball fifty all came in quick succession but India managed to breakthrough. Deepti Sharma broke the 89-run overnight partnership with a tossed up delivery outside off that Gardner drove straight to send a low catch Raj's way, at mid-off.

Meghna Singh's double strikes then gave Australia a few nervy moments. The debutant shook off the disappointment of a dropped catch off Perry and instead induced an edge off Annabel Sutherland's bat with a peach of an outswinger to clinch her maiden Test wicket. Three overs later, she had Sophie Molineux trapped LBW with an inswinger to leave Australia seven down when they were still eight away from the follow-on target of 228.

Darcie Brown's first runs in Test cricket ticked that off, but since Australia lost two more in quick succession, Lanning made the power move right after Stella Campbell had faced her first Test delivery.

With the two teams sharing two points each at the end of this rain-affected contest, Australia now have a lead of 6-4 in the series with three T20Is to be played over the course of next week.

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