The only Australia Women vs India Women Test from 2021 will be remembered as a historic match as the Women in Blue played their first-ever pink-ball Test. They stood tall in what was a heavily rain-affected match. Plenty of overs were lost during the course of four days due to bad light or rain. At the end, the spoils were shared by the teams as both captains shook hands just an hour before the close of play on Day Four.
There were plenty of positives to take from this one-off match as Mithali Raj described this as one of their best ever performances in Test cricket. Here are our five talking points from the Australia Women vs India Women Test Match at Carrara.
SMRITI MANDHANA GOT HER MAIDEN TEST CENTURY
On a fast bouncy track at Carrara, any batter could be intimidated by the occasion, especially when this is the first time you are going to face up against the brand new pink-ball. But none of this fazed India’s opener, Smriti Mandhana. Just in her fourth Test, Smriti looked in sublime touch from the very first session.
Her partnership with fellow opener Shefali Verma set the tone for what was to follow. Mandhana was actually scoring at almost a run a ball in the first phase of her innings. When the Aussies realised that none of their attacking fields was working against Mandhana, they set an offside trap against the Indian batter and bowled defensive outside off-stump lines.
Smriti was a class above the other batters in this match and she prevailed as she brought up her first-ever Test hundred in style. She was also awarded the Player of the Match award for her well-crafted 127 in the first and 31 in the second innings.
INDIA’S PACE TRIO IMPRESSED
When Australia won the toss and opted to bowl, people felt that the Aussie quicks could run through this Indian batting lineup. But the Indian batters put on a staunch defence and scored a massive 377 in the first innings.
When the Indian pace trio, led by legendary fast bowler Jhulan Goswami, took the ball, they put on a masterclass of how to bowl with the pink-ball in a day and night Test. They presented the seam upright and put the balls in the perfect areas, where the batters found it difficult to get runs from.
Pooja Vastrakar starred with the ball as she picked up three wickets in the first innings followed by a couple each for Jhulan Goswami and Meghna Singh, who was making her Test debut in this match.
SHEFALI GOT YET ANOTHER TEST HALF-CENTURY
Shefali Verma may just be 17, but she sure bats like a veteran in the toughest format of the game. In just four innings, Verma has notched up three half-centuries and has become a key part of the Indian batting lineup in all three formats.
Her partnership with Smriti Mandhana is slowly becoming one of the best opening partnerships in women’s cricket and they showed an example of exactly that in this Test at Carrara.
BOTH TEAMS TRIED TO FORCE A RESULT
In a match where the majority of the overs were wasted due to delays, a draw was the most realistic result. But credit should be given to both captains – Meg Lanning of Australia and Mithali Raj of India, as they tried to force a result in this match. On the final day of the Test, Meg Lanning put on an unusual declaration in the first innings after they had successfully avoided the follow on.
Now the Australians threw the gauntlet back to India as the visitors had the lead. It was all down to the Indian batters and the think tank to understand what could be an optimal target to set for the Aussies and how many overs would they require to get 10 Australian wickets. India decided to declare at 135/3. It meant that Australians needed seven runs and over to secure the victory. But more importantly, India had 30 odd overs to pick 10 wickets on the final day.
India started strong with the ball in the second innings as they got the Australian openers out in the first 10 overs. Post that, captain Lanning and Ellyse Perry steadied the ship for the home team and on the conclusion of 15 overs, both captains shook hands to call it a draw.
ELLYSE PERRY LOVES PINK-BALL TEST CRICKET
Australian all-rounder Ellyse Perry was the star of the show from the home team’s perspective. She has featured in two pink-ball Tests so far and she is yet to be dismissed in the three innings. She put on a remarkable 213* in the first-ever pink-ball Test against England in 2017.
Now against India, she scored a 68* in the first innings and ensured a draw on the final day of the game. She looked at ease and settled the nerves of the dressing room while she was out there batting.
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