One-off Test, India vs Australia: Fifties by Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Richa Ghosh, Deepti Sharma help India take 157-run lead | Cricket News


MUMBAI: The Indian women’s team’s peerless allrounders Deepti Sharma and Pooja Vastrakar continue to show off their class in a maiden two-Test season.
At one point in the second session on Day Two of their one-off women’s Test against Australia at the Wankhede Stadium, India seemed to be wobbling. Having lost four wickets for 14 runs in 53 balls, they had been reduced to 274 for seven, with just a first innings lead of 55 runs until then.Staging a remarkable fightback through off-spinner Ashleigh Gardener, who bowled her heart out while taking four for 100 in 41 overs of toil spread across two days, Australia, for the first time in the Test, looked on even keel with India.
However, Deepti (70 not out, 147b, 9×4) and Pooja (33 not out, 115b, 4×4) put on a splendid, unbeaten 102-run stand for the eighth wicket in 242 balls to put India back in the driver’s seat and take the game further and further away from the Aussies.


Deepti is now just the second batter in Test history to have scored a fifty in each of her first four Tests after Australia’s Denise Emerson. In an excellent display of character, patience and temperament, the duo, now just five runs shy of breaking the Indian record in Test cricket for the eighth wicket, put their heads down, choosing the loose balls to hit and blocking out the rest.
Having grinded her way to six off 46 balls initially, Deepti changed gears wonderfully once she had her eye in, using her feet to smother the spinners to mid-wicket or straight down the ground. Pooja, who chipped in with scores of 10* & 17* in the one-off Test against England at the DY Patil Stadium last week, is yet to be dismissed in her last three Test innings.
Earlier, India’s young guns, debutant Richa Ghosh (52, 104b, 7×4) and Jemimah Rodrigues (73, 121b, 9×4) coasted to a 113-run 187-ball partnership for the fourth wicket to put their team in a strong position. Ghosh, normally an ultraaggressive batter, was admirably composed in the middle, choosing only the balls pitched in her area to punish, though luck favoured her when she was dropped on 14 — Ellyse Perry grassing a sitter at mid-off off the unlucky Gardener. Her jugalbandi with local girl Rodrigues, who stroked her second half-century in her second Test, was a joy to watch-both employed the sweep shot successfully to nullify Australia’s spinners.


“It’s a fifty on my Test debut, so it feels great. It’s Test cricket, so it’s bound to test you. I had to come out of my comfort zone at some time or the other. Today was that day. When Jemi walked in, we told each other we had to build a partnership. She encouraged me a lot. It felt good,” Ghosh told reporters later.
With Smriti Mandhana (74, 106b, 12×4) losing out on a chance to score a back-to-back Test hundreds against the Aussies when she was run out while going for a single, India slowed down their pace, but continued their march on a hazy day in Mumbai, towards realising their big dream of recording their maiden Test win over Australia.
Even though they lost skipper Harmanpreet Kaur for a two-ball duck (lbw to a Gardner delivery that kept low) and Yastika Bhatia for 1 (missed a sweep off Gardner), the hosts, who resumed at their overnight score of 119 for one, rode on half-centuries by four of their batters and a useful contribution by Vastrakar to finish at 376 for seven. With a 157-lead in the bag, India are calling the shots in this Test.


Grinding the Australian attack into submission after initially attacking them, India crawled their way to 278 runs in 100 overs for the loss of six wickets on Friday to keep their date with history on Day Three of this Test. On a deteriorating wicket, where the odd ball is keeping really low, the hosts should fancy wrapping up their second Test win on the trot inside three days.
Having been outplayed on Day 1, Australia were far more resilient on Day 2, but for some reason, their fine fielding skills, normally their core competency, deserted them. Tahlia McGrath twice fumbled at mid-off to gift easy fours to Mandhana. Inexplicably, even as they tried as many as seven bowlers, Australia didn’t give a single over to experienced seam Perry, their most experienced bowling allrounder, who has 12 Tests under her belt.
SCORES: India Women 376/7 (S Mandhana 74, J Rodrigues 73, D Sharma 70*, R Ghosh 52; Gardner 4-100) lead Australia Women (219) by 157 runs.


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