After two disappointing days of test cricket it finally was a complete day of play at Metricon Stadium that saw India take control with top bowling performance that pushed Australia on backfoot who are now looking for an escape; Australia enter survival mode.
First session; Taniya Bhatia and Deepti Sharma made their way out; Gardner from one end and Perry from the other. Australia would have had an early wicket but there was no appeal from the Australians; brilliant inswinging yorker that first hit Tanya’s boot. India were out with defensive approach, Deepti with a boundary got the 300 on board for India. Taniya hardly looked to switch gares after settling in and Deepti too wasn’t able to accelerate and stayed defensive, Sophie created an opportunity but Meg Lanning at first slip was late to react and Australia failed to bag a wicket handing Deepti a life. Few maidens saw the pressure build and a wicket was sensed, Taniya Bhatia tried to push a ball playing away from her body for a boundary but had nicked it to Alyssa Healy and Stella Campbell had her maiden test wicket and had come in an ideal test fashion, Taniya walked back for 22(75) and that got Pooja Vastrakar to the crease. Deepti looked to switch gares and was managing to find the odd boundary but wasn’t much from Pooja who looked to spend time in the middle. Deepti with a couple of good strokes inched closed to her half century and had it with a single, second test fifty for Deepti Sharma and soon India crossed the 350 run mark. Minutes before dinner break Ellyse Perry striked as she got Pooja driving one that brushed the edge and flew to Beth Mooney at gully who grabbed an absolutely stunner to hand Ellyse Perry her 300th international wicket, Pooja walked back for 13(48) and was dinner break. Deepti walked back unbeaten on 58 having faced 163 deliveries. Australia were very disciplined with the ball, Stella Campbell and Ellyse Perry were the successful bowlers for Australia.
Second session; India were out with some scoring intent as Deepti struck a couple of boundaries but Stella had the last laugh as she trapped Deepti lbw on 66(167) and that got Meghna Singh to the crease, India competed that over and played an over more that saw 7 runs and there was the declaration from skipper Mithali Raj as India draw curtains to their 1st innings with 377 on board. Smriti and Deepti the standouts for India with the bat, Stella Campbell and Ellyse Perry along with spinners do a good job for Australia. 8 bowlers used by Australia; Stella, Perry and Molineux bagged a couple each and a wicket to Ash Gardner. Tahila McGrath and Annabel Sutherland were economical but weren’t rewarded with a wicket; Darcie Brown and Georgia Wareham failed to grab one and were on the expensive side. Fielding effort from Australians wasn’t that great as were sloppy on field.
In reply; Australia and Alyssa Healy were off the mark with a boundary, tight lines from both Jhulan and Meghna Singh. Early breakthrough for India as Jhulan Goswami gets one through and bowled Beth Mooney, having faced 16 deliveries Mooney walked back for 4. Meg Lanning in early to bat, Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning accelerated and kept the scorecard pushing, Meg Lanning on 17 survived a drop catch and then a leading edge that feel short giving her a life in successive deliveries and that saw 50 on board for Australia for loss of 1 wicket. Jhulan Goswami minutes before tea was called for an over and hands India what they would have wished for as Alyssa Healy walked back on 29(66); a couple short ones unsettled Healy and then a good length ball shaping away caught the outside edge, a key wicket just before tea. Ellyse Perry joined a set Meg Lanning and soon was tea time. Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry walked back unbeaten on 32 and 1 respectively; Australia 69-2. Tidy stuff from Indians with the ball, Jhulan the best with a couple of wickets, Meghna Singh, Pooja, Deepti and Rajeshwari bowled tight and were yet to strike.
Final session; few runs for Australia before Pooja Vastrakar got the big wicket of the Australian skipper, trapped Meg Lanning lbw on 38(78). Tahila McGrath joined a set Ellyse Perry who continued to have a defensive approach. Indian bowling had been right on money, they’ve kept it close to stumps and have been very tidy. Australia rebuild and saw themselves back in the contest, smart cricket from Australians as experienced Ellyse Perry and McGrath get defensive to stich a key partnership, they rebuild and McGrath looking to shift gares failed to deposit a short ball and in the next delivery that again was short and a bit wide McGrath tried to free her hands but hit it straight to point and the 39 run partnership saw curtains; Smriti Mandhana grabbed a sharp catch and Tahila McGrath walked back for a fine 28(68) and India regained momentum after a bit of shift going Australia’s way. Ashleigh Gardner joined a set Ellyse Perry with 13 overs in play and survived; Gardner was in her natural aggresive mode and after a few play and misses got into the defensive zone and hanged in there with Ellyse Perry for Australia, Perry on the other end was an absolutely rock and made no mistakes kept presenting a dead bat; was a critical passage of play that Australia with a 24 run partnership survived; first were very defensive and then some late shots ran through to the boundary. Ellyse Perry and Ashleigh Gardner walked back unbeaten on 27 and 13 respectively. Pooja Vastrakar and Jhulan Goswami kept questioning the batters and were India’s successful bowlers. Wasn’t much from Meghna but was tight, spin duo of Deepti and Rajeshwari Gayakwad too are yet to strike but held tight lines and didn’t leak runs; overall a fantastic bowling effort from the Indians.
Australia 4 down with 143 on board; trail by 234. India end the day on high with 4 wickets; they have good momentum and in an extended final days play will need 16 wickets for a win. Australia will look for survival and will first wish to see off the follow on to escape a possible test defeat on home soil.