India women vs Australia women pink-ball Test: Goswami, Vastrakar too hot to handle for Aussies
- Backed by Smriti Mandhana’s magnificent 127 and Deepti Sharma’s impressive 66, India declared the first innings at 377/8 --- the most by any visiting team in Australia --- and then heated things up by restricting Australia to 143/4 with pacers Jhulan Goswami and Pooja Vastrakar doing the damage.
Mithali Raj’s India went into their first pink ball Test against Australia not knowing what to expect. After three of the four days’ play in this rain-marred standalone game, a draw or an Indian win are the most plausible results.
India had come to Carrara Oval having lost the three-match ODI series 1-2 and with little familiarity with the pink ball. At stumps on Day Three, they left Australia needing 85 runs to avoid follow-on.
Backed by Smriti Mandhana’s magnificent 127 and Deepti Sharma’s impressive 66, India declared the first innings at 377/8 --- the most by any visiting team in Australia --- and then heated things up by restricting Australia to 143/4 with pacers Jhulan Goswami and Pooja Vastrakar doing the damage.
Goswami, 38, has been incredible for India over the past couple of weeks. She is second in the latest ICC Women’s ODI Rankings and on Saturday, Goswami inspired an attack of fast bowlers thin on experience.
With the lights on and the pink ball in her hand for the first time in international cricket, Goswami rocked Australia. In the innings’ seventh over, Goswami bowled one that was full and straight before shaping back. Aiming to whip it through the leg side, the left-handed Beth Mooney got an inside edge and the ball hit the leg stump.
Mooney had starred in Australia’s dramatic last-ball win in the second ODI, helping them seal the series. Her dismissal pumped up the Indians, especially Goswami who was also having a good contest with opener Alyssa Healy.
Like with Mooney, Goswami won this duel as well. She removed Healy in the 23rd over for 29 with Taniya Bhatia gobbling up a smart catch behind the stumps. With the dangerous Mooney and Healy back in the pavilion, India stepped on the gas with debutant Meghna Singh and Vastrakar bowling with intent. Left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad too bowled well and would have got skipper Meg Lanning but for a chance dropped by wicket-keeper Bhatia.
On Ellyse Perry and Lanning rested Australia’s hopes. But on 80/2, after their joint-venture had yielded 17 runs, Australia took another blow when Lanning was adjudged leg-before to Vastrakar. With no Umpires Decision Review System being used, Lanning had to walk after scoring 38 despite replays showing she had got bat to ball.
Perry, who became the first Australian woman to take 300 international wickets, she also has 5000 runs making her the first cricketer to achieve that feat, when she dismissed Vastrakar earlier in the day, looked solid and kept the scoreboard moving. But Vastrakar struck again at the other end, when she dismissed Tahlia McGrath on 28.
With Perry on 27 and Ashleigh Gardner on 13, India would hope to break the partnership and bowl out Australia in the first session on Sunday and see if they can force a result.
“We will have to come with a great intent tomorrow and bowl well to break this partnership to put pressure on them and get them to follow on. It is not impossible to bowl them out tomorrow morning. We have taken four top wickets in two sessions and anything can happen,” said Vatstrakar playing in her second Test.
“After Jhulan didi and Meghna gave a good start, my plan was to bowl in the right areas and keep it tight. The red ball usually swings a lot as compared with the pink ball. I enjoyed bowling with the pink ball. It was intense bowling to a top player like Lanning and getting her wicket. I am happy to see my bowling plans working out well,” she said.
Vastrakar, 22, has had a spate of injuries over the past three years but said with coach Ramesh Powar’s guidance, she is bowling well.