Jhulan Goswami swings high-octane session India’s way
TeaAustralia 69 for 2 vs India 377 for 8 dec (Mandhana 127, Deepti 66
A booming inswinger crashed into left-hander Beth Mooney’s leg stump in the seventh over, Jhulan Goswami’s fourth in the match. When the 38-year-old India quick returned for her second spell, her battle with the right-handed Alyssa Healy gathered further steam. In the space of three balls, Goswami beat Healy’s defence with one that came back in, hurled a bouncer into the opener’s front shoulder, and drew a faint outside edge with an outswinger and left Australia at 63 for 2.
After India declared at 377 for 8 in what would be a high-octane second session of the third day of the standalone pink-ball Test, Australia’s openers, and No. 3 Meg Lanning endured a fiery 12-over new-ball burst from Goswami and her younger pace partner Meghna Singh. The pink ball, which India had begun training with only two days out from the start of this day-night fixture, moved both sides of the wicket in the hands of the pair and later Pooja Vastrakar, the third quick, introduced in the 12th over.
Australia lost their openers after an alert Smriti Mandhana at short leg almost had Mooney run out in the sixth over. Vastrakar, for her part, set up a battle of her own against Lanning, who struck three fours – including a trademark square drive and an emphatic pull – en route to 17, when she survived two edges off back-to-back Vastrakar deliveries: Deepti Sharma shelled a thick outside edge at gully before a leading edge landed in an unpatrolled area on the short-midwicket periphery.
Left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad, the only spinner deployed in the session, beat Lanning’s outside edge twice. A dropped chance off the final ball before tea meant Lanning’s charmed life continued on an evening the Indian quicks, and Gayakwad briefly, dictated terms.
Earlier in the session, a flurry of fours, an erroneous lbw verdict, a second Test wicket for Stella Campbell, and a short-lived Ellyse Perry vs Goswami battle headlined the brief post-dinner interval which saw half-centurion Deepti depart for 66.
Back-to-back fours off Campbell helped Deepti bolster India’s 28 tally in a frenetic 15-minute period in the second session of day three. Her acceleration was halted, however, when she was given out lbw while failing to connect with a pull. Replays showed the ball had pitched outside the legstump. Goswami, meanwhile, just about got underneath two Perry bouncers, even swatting one of them for four before India captain Mithali Raj declared.
The opening session had been largely sluggish, with Australia picking up just two wickets before dinner, the second of those being Perry’s 300th international strike. Australia also dropped two chances, which meant India gathered 83 runs in a session spanning 40.4 overs, going into the break at 359 for 7, which had already become the highest by any visiting side against Australia.
There was little sign of urgency, or the intent to force a result in the four-day game, despite the scoreboard holding edge in India’s approach early on. Deepti, who was unbeaten on 163-ball 58* at the break, put on 45 with Taniya Bhatia, building on India’s overnight score of 276 for 5. But a scoring rate of under one for vast stretches of the innings saw them record a run rate of just 2.05 in the first session, the lowest across the three days.
Before Perry removed Vastrakar for 13 at the stroke of the dinner break, becoming the first woman with the double of 5000 runs and 300 wickets in international cricket, Stella Campbell offered the reverie-snapping breakthrough, with her second ball of the day. The tall debutant’s nagging fourth-stump line, helped by healthy bounce and carry off the drop-in surface, forced Bhatia to prod at the outswinger for wicketkeeper Healy to gobble it up, and give the 19-year-old her maiden Test wicket.
Deepti had got off the blocks off the very first ball she faced on the day, tucking Tahlia McGrath fine for a single. Thereafter, offspinner Ashleigh Gardner, who remained the most economical bowler in Australia’s eight-pronged attack, held one end up for a 12-over stretch, with Perry finding swing early to set up a battle with the right-left batting tandem.
Having picked up her first wicket of the series in the second session of the truncated day two, Perry almost had a second – and fifth if all dropped chances across three days are to be considered – with her third ball of the day. An inswinger, Perry’s yorker, struck right-hander Bhatia on toe on the off-and-middle line, but there was hardly an appeal for lbw. From that lifeline on duck, Bhatia, playing her first match since the ODI series against England in June, unfurled an array of cover drives and cuts before perishing to Campbell for a 40-ball 19.
Deepti then added 40 with the No. 7 Vastrakar, playing mostly risk-free against spinners and pacers, riding on five scares since day two, close shaves past first-slip Lanning – either side of drinks included. The closest of them was when, on 24, she nearly chopped on, and her attempt to brush the ball, rolling millimetres away from the off stump, almost put her in further jeopardy. The standout shot among her bouquet of muscular slog-sweeps came off Gardner, hit into the cowcorner to take India past 300. A single off her 148th ball in the innings took her to her second straight Test fifty, the previous having anchored a rescue act against England in Bristol.
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha