Sport

Australia vs India: Fielding of dreams leads India's women to historic series win in Australia

A home series against India expected to primarily serve as match-practice for the Southern Stars before tougher assignments in New Zealand and the World Twenty20 has instead provided a momentous victory for the visitors.

India's record of having never won a Twenty20 series outside the subcontinent was broken by them securing a commanding 10-wicket victory at the MCG on Friday to move to an insurmountable two-nil lead in the series.

Australia v India
Taken: India's Jhulan Goswami celebrates the dismissal of Grace Harris. Photo: Getty Images

The visitors' 10-wicket triumph in the rain-affected match condemned the Southern Stars, who are about to chase their fourth consecutive World Twenty20 title, to only their fourth loss in a home Twenty20 series  - and those other three had come against fellow women's-cricket titans England and New Zealand.

India veteran Jhulan Goswami, who again was excellent with the new ball in taking 2-18, conveyed her team's delight at the result.

Keeping pace: Lauren Cheatle bowls during the match against India.
Keeping pace: Lauren Cheatle bowls during the match against India. Photo: Getty Images

"When you play the best side in the world you have to be good in every department, so you can't win only if your batting side is good or your bowling side is good; you have three departments where you have to do well," she said.

"To win this series means a lot to us as we've never won a series outside India in the shorter format, so it gives us a lot of confidence ahead of the world cup."

Beaten Southern Stars captain Meg Lanning conceded that while the series result was bad for her team it was positive positive for the game in general.

"It's good for the game if India are playing well in men's and women's cricket," Lanning said. "They've improved a lot in the last few years and it's great to see for women's cricket."

When India won the series-opener in Adelaide on Tuesday they were better than the Southern Stars with bat, ball and in the field. Their advantage in the latter was even more distinct on Friday.

India were tidy throughout Australia's 18-over innings, but three acts in particular in the field were pivotal to the result.

The first two came from one player, Anuja Patil, in the space of one powerplay over. The 23-year-old demonstrated her catching prowess by snaring a chance at full stretch running with the flight from cover as Southern Stars opener Beth Mooney tried to clear the infield. She then showed her pace and sure hands as Ellyse Perry chase a risky single but was caught short by Patil's seamless pick-up and under-arm direct hit.

"I think that run-out was outstanding," Goswami said. "When the crucial time comes you have to contribute to the fielding. She did a fantastic job."

India's star from the first match, Harmanpreet Kaur, also provided the crucial touch on a Jess Jonassen drive straight back at her in the 14th over that ran out Lanning for 49, just as she looked poised to accelerate.

Lanning and Jonassen had put on 70 for the fourth wicket. Their good work was squandered as the Stars lost 5-10 off 15 balls, eventually posting 8-125 in 18 overs.

Former Australia international Mel Jones, was was part of the Channel Nine TV commentary team, hailed it as the the best fielding performance she had ever seen from India.

The suspicion the Southern Stars' total was inadequate was entrenched by India coasting to 0-29 after the five-over powerplay.

While India took their half-chances the Southern Stars squandered their first opportunity to break the opening partnership. Recalled fast-bowler Holly Ferling elicited an edge from India captain Mithali Raj that wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy failed to move for. First-slip Alex Blackwell dived in vain for the chance, as it raced to the boundary.

Rain arrived in the eighth over and stayed for half an over. A reduction in the target, to 66 from 11 overs, meant India needed another 14 runs from 13 deliveries after the resumption.

India scored from every delivery they faced, crunching two boundaries in the second-last over bowled by Sarah Coyte.

Newly crowned Belinda Clark Medallist Perry was given the daunting task of bowling the final over, with India needed only one run for victory. That was delivered at the first opportunity from captain Raj, who turned Perry to the square-leg boundary to secure the win and an insurmountable 2:0 lead in the series. She finished unbeaten on 37, with Smriti Mandhana alongside her on 22.

India had little interest in the shortest format of the game until their men's team won the World Twenty20 in 2007. The following year the Board of Control for Cricket in Cricket created the Indian Premier League to satisfy the public appetite for Twenty20.

Goswami said she hoped the series victory in Australia could, if complemented by a good performance in the World Twenty20, prompt the BCCI to create a women's IPL, to follow the Women's Big Bash League and England's soon-to-launch Women's Cricket Super League.

"I hope if we do well in the world cup then definitely we might have a women's IPL," Goswami said.