India 145 for 1 (Shafali 64*, Mandhana 54, Wareham 1-20) beat Australia 141 (Litchfield 49, Sadhu 4-17, Patil 2-19) by nine wickets
Friday evening was the story of one young fast bowler and two experienced openers who helped India cruise to a 1-0 series lead in Navi Mumbai against Australia. It was a dominant performance led by Titas Sadhu’s sensational four-wicket haul that skittled Australia for 141 before Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana made the chase look easy.
Sadhu picked three wickets in the powerplay to run through the visitors, as they lost four wickets for five runs. Australia fought back through Phoebe Litchfield and Ellyse Perry, but after Amanjot Kaur broke that stand in the 15th over, another collapse followed.
Shafali and Mandhana then bossed the Australia bowlers with assured half-centuries that helped seal a nine-wicket win with 14 balls remaining.
Sadhu drags Australia back
After India opted to bowl at the toss, Renuka Singh Thakur bowled a tight first over. But Beth Mooney turned aggressor, and Australia moved to 26 for no loss in three overs. That is when Sadhu, a late addition to the XI, was introduced.
Bowling a tidy line and length from the start, Sadhu allowed only two runs off her first four balls, including an unsuccessful caught-behind review. But she got her wicket soon after when Mooney miscued a skier that Harmanpreet Kaur grabbed backtracking from mid-on. A struggling Alyssa Healy then hit Renuka for four before offering Harmanpreet another catch at mid-off.
Sadhu then tied Tahlia McGrath down, bowling four dots including an edge that fell just short of the slip cordon. With the pressure building, McGrath tried to go inside-out to an outswinger only to miscue it to deep third. In a rare occasion of waywardness, Sadhu welcomed Ashleigh Gardner with a wide, but then drew a leading edge from her taking the catch on the followthrough to complete a near-perfect powerplay performance.
Litchfield, Perry launch comeback
From a position of 33 for 4, Litchfield and Perry then dug in even as Sadhu almost struck again when Richa Ghosh couldn’t grab at a miscued Litchfield reverse slap. The pair took off in the tenth over against Vastrakar, with Litchfield playing a pick-up pull and then going inside-out to cover next ball.
Perry completed the over with a majestic pull behind square and the runs kept flowing against Shreyanka Patil and Deepti Sharma too. Litchfield, who was in stunning form in the ODIs, then disdainfully hit Amanjot for consecutive sixes. But with the partnership growing dangerous, Amanjot struck back with a slower ball. Litchfield only found mid-off, falling one short of fifty.
Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma put on India’s biggest opening stand against Australia in T20Is•BCCI
Amanjot triggers another collapse
When Perry hit another six – and with Grace Harris at the other end – it looked like Australia wouldn’t slow down, making the most of their batting depth, but Patil trapped Harris lbw next ball as she missed a reverse sweep.
Just seven runs came off the next two overs before Sadhu returned. Annabel Sutherland lofted her for a six – the only boundary she conceded – before Sadhu got her revenge by having Sutherland caught at mid-off. She became the youngest Indian to pick a four-wicket haul in T20Is and it also made it four catches for Harmanpreet.
Deepti then got Perry and trapped Megan Schutt lbw in a two-wicket over. Patil wrapped up the innings with the tenth wicket to leave India chasing 142. The last four wickets cost only six runs.
A cakewale for Shafali, Mandhana
With a sub-par target, Australia needed a good start with the ball, but it just didn’t happen as a wayward Darcie Brown gave away two leg-bye fours and another five wides down leg.
With 14 on the board in one over, Shafali drove Schutt through the covers off the first ball she faced. Next over, Mandhana pulled Sutherland for six, before Shafali picked up two more boundaries off Schutt. Shafali hit a straight six off Sutherland in the sixth over too as India raced to 59 for no loss by the end of the powerplay.
With almost no run-rate pressure, Shafali and Mandhana ticked along comfortably. Shafali, who has come under the radar for a drop in form recently and was also left out of the last two ODIs, reached her half-century off 32 balls, after hammering McGrath for six and four.
Mandhana completed a run-a-ball fifty of her own before a sharp catch by McGrath at long-on ended her knock. The 137-run stand saw Shafali hit six fours and three sixes, while Mandhana helped herself to seven fours and a six.
By the time Mandhana fell in the 16th over, India needed only five more and Australia were consigned to only their fourth T20I defeat by nine (or more) wickets.