AUSW vs INDW: India women hold nerve to script record chase


In the space of 48 hours, Jhulan Goswami found redemption, as India pulled off their highest-ever chase in an ODI and finally ended Australia’s 26-match winning streak — which lasted for almost four years —in the 50-over format in thrilling fashion. Ironically, Australia’s amazing streak had started against India (in India back in Match 2018) and ended against India too.

On Friday night, struggling with dew, Goswami had let her team down when she conceded 13 in a poor final over which had two full tosses — the second being a controversial no ball — leading to a five-wicket defeat in a humdinger in the second ODI at the Great Barrier Arena in Mackay.

On Sunday, against the same opponents, at the same ground, the 38-year-old came back with a vengeance, taking three wickets with her incisive bowling and then smashing a four in the final over when India needed three off four balls to chase down 265 — something they’d never done before. Putting in an all-round performance of the highest quality, Jhulan showed why she would be a key player for India going into the ODI World Cup in New Zealand next year — set to be her swansong event.

“We were just trying to stay there and finish the game. On Friday, it was difficult for bowlers and today as the senior bowler I wanted to stand up and use the new ball well. I knew that I could get the breakthroughs. That was what I did. It’s important to give your best in the field, take positives and that’s what I want to do as a senior,” an elated Jhulan said later.

“(There’s) lots of soreness in my body having played back-to-back games. I need time to recover, but we’re looking forward to being a part of the first-ever pink-ball Test,” she added.

Giving away just 37 runs in 10 overs which included two maidens —the experienced pacer dismissed the dangerous Rachel Haynes (13, caught at mid-off), Aussie skipper Meg Lanning (0, caught behind off a ‘jaffa’ outside offstump) and Annabel Sutherland (0, caught at mid-wicket). Later, walking out with India delicately placed at 259 for eight in the 49th over, the ‘Chakdaha Express’ danced down the track to left-arm spinner Sophie Molineux, smashing the bowler over her head to help the visitors eke out a thrilling two-wicket win in the dead rubber.

While Jhulan provided the perfect finishing touch, the foundation of the tall chase was set by opener Shafali Verma (56, 91b, 7×4), the new No 3 Yastika Bhatia (64, 69b, 9×4), and allrounders Deepti Sharma (31, 30b, 3×4) and Sneh Rana (30, 27b, 5×4). India looked set to lose the series 3-0 when skipper Mithali Raj (16 off 28 balls) was out in the 41st over, but Sharma and Rana added 33 off 34 balls for the seventh wicket in a fighting partnership to keep India alive.

Both Shafali and Yastika, who looked a very good prospect for the future, scored their maiden ODI half-centuries, adding 101 for the second wicket off 114 balls. Before that, Shafali, who shed her natural attacking approach to play a more patient innings, had added 59 off 63 balls with Smriti Mandhana (22, 25b, 3×4) to get India off the blocks quickly. Coasting at 160 for one in the 30th over, India lost five wickets for 48 runs, before Sharma and Rana brought them back into the match.

Electing to bat first, Australia slipped to 87 for four as Jhulan and Pooja Vastrakar (3-46) rattled the hosts with early blows. Ashleigh Gardner (67, 62b, 8×4, 2×6) and last match’s centurion Beth Mooney (52, 64b, 6×4) then rescued them with a 98-run stand for the fifth wicket off 93 balls. Capitalising on yet another atrocious display by India’s butter-fingered fielders, they finished at 264-9.

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