McKay: Young India batsmen Yastika Bhatia and Shafali Verma dazzled at the top with opposite half-centuries to console their team with a two-wicket haul over Australia in the third women’s ODI, ending the home team’s 26-match unbeaten streak on Sunday.
The visitors, after winning the three-match series in their previous outing, completed a difficult target of 265 runs in the final over, gaining some lost ground ahead of the upcoming day/night Test. The result meant that Australia’s record-breaking winning run ended on 26.
Chasing a challenging target, India got the start they needed, thanks to the opening wicket partnership of 59 runs between Shafali Verma (56) and Smriti Mandhana (22) in just 11 overs. Some time back, Ashley Gardner broke this partnership by getting Mandhana caught by Annabel Sutherland after scoring a brilliant half-century.
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Bhatia (64) joined Verma in the middle and the two formed a good partnership and worked well without any difficulty. After 25 overs, India were comfortably at 131 for one and the visiting batsmen hit a boundary in every over.
Known for her independent game, the 17-year-old Verma had made a conscious decision to bat deep but battling with back pain and exhaustion, the Rohtak teenager gave up after scoring her maiden half-century. The format, off 86 balls, ended a fruitful 101 run association with Bhatia.
Playing only in her third ODI, 21-year-old Bhatia was a target chaser and completed her maiden half-century off 56 balls. Substitute fielder Molly Strano changed the color of the game with a brilliant catch at the boundary before Bhatia added 14 more runs to her total.
Attempting a pull shot, Bhatia ends a Stella Campbell delivery over the top and Strano completes a diving catch at deep backward square-leg. The Indian batsman also got relief even before reaching the half-century, but she could not take full advantage of it.
It was a big blow for India, who came back after that dismissal, having done so in the first half of their innings, suddenly finding it difficult to score. Richa Ghosh fell for a duck for Sutherland before the medium pacer went through the gap between the bat and pad of Pooja Vastrakar to leave India in a troubled spot at 192 for five.
Skipper Mithali Raj broke the ties with a welcome maximum off Stella Campbell with just six off 20 balls, but the veteran also succumbed to the pressure of the rising asking rate as she was bowled by Sutherland when she hit a Tried to play unusual shots.
However, Sneh Rana (30) and Deepti Sharma (31) quickly added 33 crucial runs in the order, which was enough for those following them to see the team.
Earlier, the Indian bowlers let Australia off the hook again as the home team recovered from a competitive score of 264 for nine. After scoring 87 for four in the 25th over, the hosts shared a 98-run partnership between Ashleigh Gardner (67) and last match centurion Beth Mooney (52). Tahlia McGrath played a quick innings of 47 runs in 32 balls.
For India, medium pacer Pooja Vastrakar finished with figures of 3/46 while veteran seamer Jhulan Goswami took 3 for 37.
Electing to bat after winning the toss at Harrup Park, Australia got off to a slow start as the comebacks Rachel Haynes (13) and Alyssa Healy (35) put on 41 runs for the first wicket in 8.1 overs.
After a heart-wrenching defeat in the second ODI, Goswami provided an early breakthrough when he caught Haynes at mid-off while the batsman tried to play over one.
India rejoiced again after four balls as a graceful Goswami delivery propelled skipper Meg Lanning to drive off wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh.
Australia lost two more wickets before the recovery began.