Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - India seek first points; Australia, consolidation, in final ODI. India's inability to close out the game despite being on top for the first half of Australia's 275-run chase is a glaring mistake they can't afford to repeat.
India's inability to close out the game despite being on top for the first half of Australia's 275-run chase is a glaring mistake they can't afford to repeat.
If the Friday night nail-biter proved anything, it's that Australia won't rest at 26 successive ODI wins and India will have to muster their best, near-perfect performance yet, to halt the unstoppable juggernaut in Sunday's final ODI. Besides stretching their world record with a final-ball five-wicket win, Australia also doubled their lead against India to 4-0 in the multi-format series that sees a one-off pink-ball Test next week to be followed by three T20Is.
The marginal no-ball ruling off the final delivery and the eventual result of the contest notwithstanding, India were pushed to the extreme in a dramatic contest of nerves that had positives and negatives in equal measure. Captain Mithali Raj had demanded better accountability from her openers, especially Smriti Mandhana, and the bowlers – and they delivered. But even on a day the batting unit collectively forged their best total yet in ten games in 2021 and the pace attack provided a dream start to pin the opposition on the mat at 52 for 4, Australia managed a jail-break for the ages to expose India's frailties once again.
India's inability to close out the game despite being on top for the first half of Australia's 275-run chase is a glaring mistake they can't afford to repeat with the World Cup on the horizon. It wasn't all down to complacent bowling, but also fielding and catching lapses that highlighted once again the need for more and more dedicated under-lights training to counter the challenges of day-night contests. Beth Mooney's drop, in particular, would continue to haunt, while better judgement on the field in the high-stakes final over could have saved them some crucial runs.
The batting though appears to be falling in place. Led by Mandhana's classy 86 and two of the two crucial partnerships she starred in, India found a ballpark number which can pose a threat for their formidable opponents. The challenge, however, would be to consistently hit the spot. To that effect, they've unearthed two youngsterswho, despite their contrasting styles of play and roles, appear to be the missing pieces of India's batting puzzle. With Yastika Bhatia's inclusion, India have found a way to maintain a left-right combination in the middle in the top half, that had even Ellyse Perry struggling for control in her new-ball spell. And in Richa Ghosh, they have a finisher, a floater and a wicketkeeper rolled in one.
Mooney, after her match-winning beaten 125, wasn't wrong in declaring that Australia have the bench strength to turn any game on its head and win it from any critical situation. They are probably the only side who can openly make that claim – winning a game well out of their reach at one point and without any significant contribution from their ‘fab 3'.
To Australia, a heist like the one in Mackay was worth every penny they've ever invested in grassroots cricket. To the world, it only reaffirms the depth of Australia's ever-widening talent pool. Tahlia McGrath was only playing her seventh ODI, Mooney was back at opening the innings for only the second time in 26 games in this Championship cycle, Nicola Carey had walked into the XI only because of a last-minute injury to the vice-captain – and yet the trio held their nerves remarkably well to pull off a coup that will go down in folklore. The 27th win isn't far, although Meg Lanning wouldn't mind lesser drama this time.
When:Sunday, September 26, at 10:05 am local | 5:35 am IST
Where:Harrup Park, Mackay
What to expect:The strip has had no demons and been friendly to batters who have applied themselves. Expect another run-filled contest with weather unlikely to intervene at any point.
Beth Mooney hinted at a probable return for Rachael Haynes, admitting she's more than happy to slot back in the middle order and hand over the opener's slot despite that scintillating hundred. An official update is awaited but that could mean Australia will have to drop a calm-under-pressure Nicola Carey right after she played her part to perfection in stealing 13 off the epic final over.
Probable XI:Alyssa Healy (wk), Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning (C), Ellyse Perry, Ashleigh Gardner, Tahlia McGrath, Nicola Carey/Rachel Haynes, Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham, Hannah Darlington, Darcie Brown
There's little known about India vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur's recovery from the thumb injury she suffered prior to the practice game. To add to India's woes, Shafali Verma walked off the park clutching her lower back during India's fielding innings. If the duo doesn't pull through, Jemimah Rodrigues may well make her India comeback as an opener.
Probable XI:Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma/Jemimah Rodrigues, Mithali Raj (C), Yastika Bhatia, Richa Ghosh (wk), Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav
What they said:
“To be composed the whole way through that innings with someone like Tahlia (McGrath), who hasn't played a lot of international cricket, shows the gains we've made in domestic cricket. And the importance of getting (new) people in this squad, involved in games and exposed to this kind of series… We just keep churning out these players who come out on the big stage and look like they've been there for years,” – Beth Mooney on Australia's strong pool and sound domestic structure
“Richa (Ghosh) had shown her power-hitting skills in the last match and today she showed that she can actually craft an innings as well. She has both those sides to the game, so that's a huge positive for us that she can bat in any situation for us… As a team we're pleased to have someone who can [be a floater] – be a power-hitter but also at the same time [be] someone who can step up and build steady partnerships with a set batter.” – Smriti Mandhana is pleased with the maturity Ghosh has shown in just her second ODI