HISTORIC ENCOUNTER AT THE METRICON STADIUM SETTLES FOR A DRAW.

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Was a complete day of play at Metricon Stadium; a result was building despite the very expected draw. There was a different excitement during the afternoon and evening session where there were possibilities of a result but that needed a bold decision to come from the Indian camp.

Opening session; Ellyse Perry and Ashleigh Gardner made their way out to the middle, Jhulan Goswami and Pooja Vastrakar began the final day proceedings for India. Wasn’t much for the seamers in the bright afternoon and the Aussie duo looked comfortable and Mithali Raj got spinners from both ends, runs and boundaries continued to flow and Ashleigh Gardner was in her aggresive zone, Ellyse Perry didn’t miss out to deposit any lose ones and with a boundary got to her half century and soon Gardner too got to her maiden test half century. Looking to push the scoring a bit more Ashleigh Gardner hit one straight to Mithali Raj at mid-off who took a very good low diving catch to complete the wicket, Deepti with the breakthrough as Gardner walked back for a fine 51(86) that saw curtains to Australia’s crucial 89 run stand. Annabel Sutherland was in the middle, India took the new ball immediately when available and was all India’s dominance as Jhulan shared the new ball with Meghan Singh who with a good outswinger brushed Annabel’s blade on it’s way to Taniya; Annabel walked back for 3(20). Sophie Molineux joined a set Ellyse Perry; was nothing from Sophie as Meghna Singh had her second in quick time as she trapped Sophie lbw on 2(14); previous ball Perry on 58 was given a life by Deepti at slip who failed a grab a very sharp catch. Georgia Wareham joined Perry and the like other tailenders had no answers to what was thrown at them by India as Georgia walked back for 2(11) and India with the new ball were all over Australia who were panicking and collapsing. Australia inching close to the follow-on lost 4 wickets; Darcie Brown joined Ellyse Perry and Brown got off the mark with a boundary in test cricket and that also saw Australia finally get pass the follow-on mark. Ellyse Perry again was given a life on 61; Pooja created the opportunity but Taniya the safest hand failed to grab; was a brilliant spell by Pooja and the wicket was rightly deserved. Everything was going India’s way, bowling change of Deepti worked as she trapped Brown lbw on 8. Stella Campbell joined Perry and Australia declared with 241 on board and was time for dinner break; India lead by 136. Perry remained unbeaten on 68*(208), Stella survived a ball in test cricket before Meg declared. Indian bowling attack was excellent on display, Jhulan, Meghna and Deepti bagged a couple each and 3 wickets to Pooja with Rajeshwari Gayakwad who was yet to take a wicket.

In a brilliant spell of bowling Pooja Vastrakar bagged a wicket and was very economical, a total of 3 wickets for Pooja in the first innings.

Second session; Smriti and Shafali do well and give India a decent start, wasn’t fiery and were playing the ball on merit; they see off new ball bowlers Darcie Brown and Ellyse Perry. 1st change, Stella Campbell almost did the damage as Mandhana pulled one but feel a bit short of a diving Gardner in the deep. India switched gares, were attacking and with a boundary get 50 on board. Runs and a few boundaries did come India’s way and soon 200 was on board for India. A bowling change finally worked for Australia as Smriti Mandhana went for a maximum but was caught at deep by Gardner; was an excellent catch in the deep and Sophie Molineux in her first over striked Smriti on 31(48) and India’s opening stand of 70 saw curtains. The pacers were given rest and was spin from both ends; Yastika Bhatia in at 3, there was some intent from India to move the game; but didn’t go as they would have wished as Gardner with an excellent delivery dismissed Yastika on 3(12), couple quick wickets for Australia. Punam Raut made her way to the middle, Shafali held her end tight. Punam Raut played her natural defensive game and tried scoring the odd boundary, no real hitting from India and a result was slowly out of equation. 100 was on board for Australia and soon Shafali in style with a boundary down the ground got to her half century and was time for tea at Gold Coast. India had a 242 run lead; Shafali and Raut walked back unbeaten on 51 and 16 respectively. For Australia, spinners Sophie Molineux and Ashleigh Gardner were the successful bowlers who bagged a wicket each.

Shafali Verma paced well to get a half century to her name in India’s maiden pink-ball test outing.

Final session of play; Punam Raut looked to switch gares and successfully managed to find gaps and got India’s lead past the 250 mark before Shafali too looked to accelerate but couldn’t as bowling change of Georgia Wareham worked Australia’s way and Georgia had her maiden test wicket of a set Shafali Verma on 51(90). Deepti walked out and India somewhere did feel to push the game; but Deepti wasn’t much attacking and Punam opt to accelerate as she smacked few power hits and India finally with 271 on board declared. 135/3 in the 2nd innings from India; Punam Raut 41*(62) and Deepti 3*(9). Spinners; Sophie, Gardner and Georgia were among wicket with a wicket each to their name who bowled the maximum. Aussies pacers had bowled enough and were given a few overs at the start.

Punam Raut switched gares and batted brilliant for her 41*(62) that saw India declare early with 271 on board.

Australia in reply; Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney made their way to the middle and India had an early breakthrough as Jhulan got the wicket of Alyssa Healy on 6(5); Healy went for the cut but saw her stumps lit and Australia were 8-1. Skipper Meg Lanning made her way to the middle, few runs and boundaries before Beth Mooney threw her wicket to a plan; short ball, Mooney went for the pull and hit it straight to Rajeshwari Gayakwad in the deep who took a comfortable catch, Pooja with the wicket. Ellyse Perry joined a set Meg Lanning; Australia were defensive after the wicket of Beth Mooney and turned more defensive in approach to just not make an eroor that would open gates for India. India were attacking and the field placements were spot on and didn’t throw any easy to Australia who just managed a boundary and a few runs. The test match was down to the final hour where Meg Lanning desperate to walk back looked at Mithali Raj who had a word with her team before shaking hands to call off the test and the encounter settled for a draw. 15 overs was all Australia batted in their 2nd innings and scored 36 losing both openers; Lanning and Perry walked back unbeaten on 17 and 1 respectively. India again were excellent with the ball in hand, Jhulan Goswami was just at her best; unplayable. Pooja Vastrakar and Rajeshwari Gayakwad were tight. Meghna Singh just had a couple of overs but was on the expensive side.

Jhulan Goswami didn’t fail to make an impact, a couple wickets in the first innings with economy of 1.5 and a wicket in the second with economy of 1.3; a standout as always.

India by far were a better side; they’d completely outplayed Australia be it with the bat or ball in hand. Australia right from day 1 were on the backfoot and that reflected in their sloppy fielding and drop catches that they aren’t know for. They’ll be very happy with a draw to walk back and have had the 2 points where a zero was on cards. It was outstanding cricket from India playing in their first ever day-night pink-ball test where they repeatedly did well and kept one of the best cricketing sides on the backfoot and didn’t allow the Australians to stage a comeback.

At the end, this is what sport is all about; both teams group up for a click.

Had India declared early, making a bold decision there possibly could have been a result. It is the ‘India/Australia women’s series trophy’ that the sides are playing for and after the draw both sides share a couple of points each and Australia are with a 6-4 lead heading into the 3 match T20I series where India do hold a good chance to draw level and fight for a win.

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