Sensational Sadhu sinks Australia in first T20 World Cup

Beth Mooney, Tahlia McGrath, Ashleigh Gardner and Annabel Sutherland... Titas Sadhu's wickets in the first T20Is broke the back of Australia one by one.
Titas Sadhu won the Player of the Match award for her four for 17 in the first T20I against Australia. (Photo |PTI)
Titas Sadhu won the Player of the Match award for her four for 17 in the first T20I against Australia. (Photo |PTI)

CHENNAI: The last time Australia toured India for the T20I series, Titas Sadhu was preparing for the U19 T20 World Cup in South Africa. During the five-match series against the hosts in the lead-up to the marquee event, Sadhu finished with bowling figures of 2-1-2-2 in one of the games. Those who watched the live feed without commentary on the grainy one-camera setup from Tuks Cricket Oval saw something special.

A few weeks later, on January 29, she etched her name in the history books with a sensational spell of 4-0-6-2 against England to help India lift the inaugural U19 World Cup in Potchefstroom. On February 13, in the first-ever Women's Premier League Auction, Delhi Capitals signed the Bengal pacer. In less than two months, she became part of history on so many levels that most could dream of.

The WPL season, though, gave her a reality check when she didn't get a single match to play for the Capitals. However, Sadhu decided to focus on the positives. "In the U19s, we are protected. When we went for WPL, there was no spoon-feeding. I looked at it as a learning experience. I didn’t get to play any matches in WPL. Initially, I was down about it. Especially, coming back from the highs of the U19 World Cup. I think the whole of WPL has taught me more about myself and my cricket than the World Cup," Sadhu had told this daily before the Asian Games, where she made her debut for the senior side.

And learn she did. In her second-ever match for the senior side, that too in the gold medal match of the continental event, her bowling figures yet again read like a four-digit zip code, 4-1-6-3. Defending a below-par total of 116 for the top finish against Sri Lanka, Sadhu took three wickets, including that of the high-hitting opposition captain, Chamari Athapaththu. There was no official Player of the Match award in the Asian Games, but if they were to give one, she would have bagged it just like the U19 T20 WC final.

Her rollercoaster 2023 came to an end with a T20 series against England where she bowled three overs across two matches, without any wickets. After carrying drinks in two Tests, and three ODIs, Sadhu finally got the chance to put the bib out and finally get the ball in the first T20I against Australia at the DY Patil Stadium on Friday. In her very first over, she got rid of Beth Mooney, who has been a rock of Australian batting dominance over the years.

Incoming batter, Tahlia McGrath, barely survived the first ball. By her sixth delivery to the Australian vice-captain, Sadhu had her hole out to deep third. A wide followed, but it is allowed if you have just reduced the World Champions to 33 for three. A ball later Ashleigh Gardner was walking back to the pavilion and the 19-year-old's bowling figures read 2-0-3-3.

In her final over, after getting hit for a six, she came back and sent Annabel Sutherland packing as Australia slipped to 135 for seven. She fractionally missed her first five-wicket haul when a DRS review helped Georgia Wareham survive. At the end of the sensational day's work, Sadhu's figures were 4-0-17-4. Australia were bowled out for the first time since February 2020 and India could not have asked for a better start to the T20I series in Navi Mumbai as they registered a nine-wicket victory.

"I was really excited because I had been sitting out for some while now. So I'm always waiting for my turn to bowl and I was excited as well today. So when I got the chance to bowl, I just wanted to hit my lengths and make the ball move a little and I was lucky, I got those wickets," Sadhu told the media after bagging the Player of the Match award for her four for 17.

With the T20 WC months away from now, from all the signs it looks like Sadhu will have a big role to play in Bangladesh. For now, she has her best figures in T20Is and India has dominated the Aussies like never before.

Brief scores: Australia 141 all out in 19.2 ovs (Litchfield 49, Sadhu 4/17) lost to India 145/1 in 17.4 ovs (Mandhana 54, Shafali 64 n.o).

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