Commonwealth Games: Heartbreak for India as world champion Australia wins maiden gold medal in women's cricket
The 'Women In Blue' lost the battle of nerves and also the last five wickets for 13 runs with some poor strategic moves and even more atrocious shot selections leaving a lot to be desired.
CHENNAI: It was a rewind back to Lord's in 2017. If it was England then, this time India, once again came close to making history before falling short against Australia in the final moments at Edgbaston, bagging silver in their maiden appearance at the Commonwealth Games.
Chasing 162, the Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur was in the middle sooner than they would have wanted. Having watched their bowlers take pace off the ball, Indian openers Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma did not waste any time to charge down against Megan Schutt. While they took 12 runs off the first over and Mandhana scored another boundary from Darcie Brown in the next, the party did not last long as the 19-year-old castled the stumps. With Shafali Verma getting out to Ashleigh Gardner in the next over, the onus was on Harmanpreet and Jemimah Rodrigues.
And she did exactly that, taking things into her own hands. While Jemimah struggled to keep up with the run rate, Harmanpreet — who’s going through a purple patch, especially against Australia — creamed Brown for back-to-back boundaries. Brought out her favorite sweep shot against spinners. She used her feet to loft Jess Jonassen down the ground, over midwicket, adjusting to lengths even at the last moment. There were the pulls, cover drives, paddle sweeps and her signature batswing as India controlled the proceedings. With Jemimah, she took India to 118/2 in 15 overs. And then Gardner happened.
Jemimah went for a slog and lost her stumps to Schutt. Pooja Vastrakar was caught in the deep off Gardner and Harmanpreet tried to scoop and the ball lobbed off her helmet with Alyssa Healy completing the rest as India lost three wickets for three runs. They were down to 121/5. A series of run outs happened and they needed 11 runs in the last over.
Earlier, once again, Renuka Singh Thakur was at the forefront, up against Alyssa Healy. While the first couple of overs were quiet, it did not take long for the pacer to make an impact. She delivered her trademark inswinger — something she has done consistently in this tournament — and with Taniya Bhatia standing up to the stumps, Healy was pinned to the crease. The ball hit her on the knee roll, umpire denied, but India took it upstairs to remove their nemesis from the 2020 T20 World Cup final early.
Beth Mooney was still there and with captain Meg Lanning, the southpaw took charge of the innings. When Harmanpreet brought herself on, Australia milked her for 17 runs, taking them to 83/1 after 10 overs. With momentum on their side, they looked good for another 100 runs. But Radha Yadav had other ideas.
The left-arm spinner throwed the ball, from a Mooney straight drive, back on to the stumps at non-striker’s end to catch Lanning short of crease. Five balls later, she took a blinder at point to get rid of Tahlia McGrath, who was allowed to play despite testing positive for Covid as per the tournament norms. It was the beginning of a phase where India started to turn things around with their fielding.
However, Mooney — who often goes unnoticed in a team of superstars — notched up another fifty and threatened to take the game away. And that is when, Deepti pulled off a one-handed stunner running back from mid-on to dismiss the Australian opener (61).
It was one of those days where even the players, whom India generally used to hide in the field, were throwing themselves around, hitting stumps and taking the catches at every possible occasion. Deepti and Radha nailed their death overs as India conceded just 11 runs in the last two, restricting Australia for 161/8.
Brief scores: Australia 161/8 (Mooney 61; Renuka 2/25) bt India 152 all out in 19.3 ovs (Harmanpreet 68, Gardner 3/16).