India leg spinner Poonam Yadav has run rings around Australia’s batters, taking 4-19 to send the hosts and tournament favourites crashing to a 17-run defeat in the opening match of the Twenty20 World Cup.
- Australia needed 66 off 60 to win, before Yadav took 4-5 in 13 deliveries
- Yadav was on a hat-trick during her stunning spell, but had her hat-trick ball dropped
- Australia opener Alyssa Healy (51 off 35) returned to form with her first double-digit score since last October
After a solid bowling effort restricted India to 4-132 from its 20 overs, Australia saw star opener Alyssa Healy return to form and kick off the run chase with a stylish 51 off 35.
Healy’s first double-digit score from six T20 innings, dating back to October last year, had the hosts in the box seat despite losing in-form opener Beth Mooney (6) and captain Meg Lanning (5). Then Yadav arrived.
After being smacked for nine runs off her first four balls, Yadav removed Healy by pouching a return catch.
Even so, the top order had knocked off 67 of the required 133 runs by the halfway mark of the innings, leaving a relatively simple 66 to win off the last 60 balls.
But Yadav’s next over saw her remove Rachael Haynes (6) and Ellyse Perry (0) with successive wrong’uns, and she should have had a hat-trick after finding Jess Jonassen’s outside edge with another googly, but Taniya Bhatia could not handle behind the stumps.
Bhatia, who had an otherwise exceptional night with the gloves, made amends in Yadav’s next over when she caught out Jonassen for 2 to complete a 13-ball offering from Yadav in which she had taken 4-5.
Poonam Yadav (left) and Taniya Bhatia (right) formed an unstoppable duo through the middle overs. (AP: Rick Rycroft)
After sitting pretty at 2-67, Australia had been reduced to 6-82 in the blink of an eye and the run chase never got back in gear.
Ash Gardner was the last remaining star batter and tried her best, hitting a six and three fours, but even she was not immune to the brilliance of India’s bowling attack, which was also aided by a brilliant 3-14 performance by seamer Shikha Pandey.
Gardner and Annabel Sutherland put on 19 runs before Bhatia pulled off an excellent stumping to a wide Pandey ball.
Delissa Kimmince was run out as she pursued a desperate second in the penultimate over, Gardner herself holed out as she attempted to slog 21 runs off the last over, and Australia did not even make it to 20 overs, with Molly Strano run out on the second-last delivery to end the chase in a fittingly meek fashion.
India’s glacial pace more than enough
India actually started the game in similarly hopeful fashion before enduring its own struggles with the bat.
Opening batter Shafali Verma, a 16-year-old playing in her first World Cup, played with absolute abandon in the opening powerplay, creaming five fours and a six in her 29 off 15.
India’s Smriti Mandhana looks for runs against Australia in the tournament opener. (AAP: Dean Lewins)
India was going along at a great clip, with 40 runs off the first four overs, but could not keep that pace up after Verma holed out to Sutherland of Perry’s bowling.
Having already lost its other explosive opener — Smriti Mandhana (10 off 11) was out LBW to Jonassen — India turned to captain Harmanpreet Kaur to right the ship.
But she was stumped in farcical fashion, when Jonassen slid a delivery past her outside edge and Healy failed to get a glove to it, only for the ball to ricochet off the wicketkeeper’s pad and into the stumps.
That left the tourists at 3-47 in the seventh over and, despite only losing one more wicket, the innings never really got back into full stride.
Jemimah Rodrigues (26 off 33) and Deepti Sharma (49 off 46) went along at a pretty glacial pace, only hitting one boundary in a partnership that last 56 deliveries.
Sharma clobbered two fours immediately after Rodrigues was out in the 16th over, and she and Veda Krishnamurthy built the total up to 4-132, which turned out to be more than enough.
Look back at how the action unfolded in our live blog.