Australia is clinging to a 6-4 lead in the ongoing Multi-Format series against India after a rain-interrupted Test match finished in a draw with both captains shaking hands just before the final hour of play.
In a match that had over one hundred overs list to rain, three declarations, and some world-class bowling and strokeplay, Ellyse Perry and captain Meg Lanning nursed Australia out of trouble on the final evening to salvage a draw after trailing for the majority of the game.
India dominated the test right from the first ball. While their last-ditch attempt and dismissing Australia inside 32 the final sessions was seen as wildly ambitious, it certainly paved the way for an exciting conclusion to the rain-affected tussle.
Led by Smriti Mandhana with her first innings century, which saw her claim player of the match and the consistency and experience of Jhulan Goswami allowed India to keep Australia at an arms-length over the course of the game and never really looked troubled.
Australia was made to rue and lament their wayward opening sessions with the ball and in the field. Usually a sound and safe fielding unit, Australia, uncharacteristically dropped several catches in India’s first innings which set up a big first-innings total from the tourists.
“We had some chances in the Test that if we had taken might have changed things, but we fought hard at the end and that’s what I’m most proud of.” Aussie skipper Meg Lanning said post-match.
Australian coach Matthew Mott described the last few days as “frustrating” both in terms of the way that Australia patched together their performance but also on the weather which played its role in the outcome of the match.
“We thought we’d have a happy time, winning the toss, the wicket had a tinge of green in it, we had a very good pace attack but we probably just missed our mark in the first hour,” Mott said to media post-game.
“From then on we were always clawing it back.
“They held all the aces, they earned the right to really put us under pressure and we never really got back into the game.
“But I was really proud of the way we hung in there, we kept our standards right till the end”
Mott was full of praise for superstar All-rounder Ellyse Perry who celebrated a number of milestones in the 4 days on the Gold Coast. Perry became only the third Australian woman to claim 300 wickets for her country and faced her 1000th delivery across all formats for Australia while she was out in the middle, putting in another classy inning to finish 68* when Australia declared their first innings closed just before the dinner break.
It had been a tough start to the series for Perry who was struggled to find her length with the ball in hand in the One-Day matches up in Mackay but managed to re-align and lead the young Australian bowling attack with tidy match figures of 31 overs, 5 maidens claiming 2/90.
“We always knew Pez was going to get better with the ball,” Mott said
“She said she struggled [up in Mackay] by her own admission.
“Once she got the opportunity to come into the test match and bowl some consecutive overs with the pink ball, i thought she got better as she went along.
Her record with the bat, it’s up there with the best”
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Indian captain Mithali Raj said it was a consideration to take the game into the final hour, saying it was tricky to find the balance on finding the right time to declare and how many overs would they leave with what score on the board.
“We thought maybe if we would have gotten 4 wickets in the first hour [of the 4th innings] maybe we would have gotten into the mandatory overs, but getting 8 wickets in the 15 overs was a big stretch,” Raj said.
“Overall I thought it was great experience for all the girls playing this test format. For them to get the experience of how long the format is actually played”
India will have to win all three T20 Internationals if they are to claim victory in the multi-formal series. But Raj is confident that the form that India has built from the first One-Day game where they were comprehensively beaten. Carrying both form and momentum should have them well placed to perform and compete well in a format they are well equipped in.
“From where we started in the one-dayers and carrying the momentum into the test format, I clearly think that we do have a chance to with the T20 series,” Raj said.
The T20 leg of the series gets underway back at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast on Thursday. Both teams will be sweating on the fitness of key players with Australia looking to regain fiery quick Tayla Vlaeminck after she was rested from the ODI’s and Test match.
India will be hoping their T20 skipper Harmanpreet Kaur who is yet to feature for India on this tour after missing the opening games with a thumb injury.