Gaming

Australia beat India by 190 runs, sweep ODI series | Cricket

Run out without facing a ball in the first innings of the one-off Test, it was a nightmarish start to the India tour for young Australian opener Phoebe Litchfield. In the second innings of that game, which was only her second Test, she got bowled for 18 attempting an ill-advised reverse sweep. From there, however, began a phenomenal comeback by the 20-year-old. She top-scored for Australia in the first two ODIs, before slamming her second century in the format at the Wankhede Stadium here on Tuesday to help her team earn a series-sweeping 190-run win.

Australia’s Phoebe Litchfield during the 3rd ODI of the Australia Women’s Tour of India, 2023–24, between India and Australia at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday (ICC – x)

It was the third-heaviest defeat for India in women’s ODI cricket.

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Not much went right for India as they suffered their 10th straight ODI defeat at home against the Aussies. Opting to bat first once again, the visitors rode on a 189-run opening stand between Litchfield (119) and skipper Alyssa Healy (82) to post 338/7 – the highest-ever total conceded by India in the format. In reply, Smriti Mandhana top-scored with 29 as Harmanpreet Kaur and Co were bowled-out for 148 in 32.4 overs.

Litchfield benefitted from a large dose of luck in the second ODI, as India’s fielders dropped her thrice, to get 63 runs. But the confidence she gained from consecutive half-centuries was apparent as she batted with authority in the third game. The left-hander, who was picked up by Gujarat Giants for 1 crore in the Women’s Premier League auction last month, batted for over three hours and hit 16 fours and a six in her knock.

Healy, who had registered scores of 0 and 18 in the first two ODIs, returned to form in time for the three-match T20I series that begins on Friday. The right-hander wasn’t at her fluent best but fought through to register her 16th ODI half-century.

As Litchfield and Healy’s partnership progressed, Australia looked on course for a much bigger total than the one they eventually got. But India did well to pull things back from over No. 29 to 47, picking seven wickets for 117 runs. Young off-spinner Shreyanka Patil was the standout bowler and dismissed Beth Mooney, Tahlia McGrath and Ash Gardner to return with figures of 3/57.

But like the last game, Australia rode on fireworks by Alana King (26* off 14) to regain momentum heading into the break. Pooja Vastrakar, who leaked 18 runs in the last over of the innings in the second ODI, was taken for 19 this time. India conceded 20 runs in wides (28 in extras overall) in what was a forgettable performance with the ball.

India got a brisk start to the chase thanks to some typically classy strokeplay by Mandhana but from 32 for no loss, they went on to lose all 10 wickets for just 116 runs. Richa Ghosh (19) and Jemimah Rodrigues (25) got starts but couldn’t carry on, while Deepti Sharma remained unbeaten on 25.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment with the bat for India was skipper Harmanpreet’s dismissal. The 34-year-old, who got scores of 9 and 5 in the first two ODIs, was out for 3 this time playing a premeditated sweep shot. She got into position to play a lap sweep so early that Mooney had enough time to run across from first slip to leg slip and take the catch. The right-hander has scored a mere 92 runs, including five single-digit scores, in her last seven one-day innings.

Litchfield, meanwhile, stole the show in the field as well with a sensational one-handed catch to get rid of Amanjot Kaur. Leg-spinner Georgia Wareham, with 3/23, was the pick of the bowlers for Australia.

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