05/03/2024

Australian star all-rounder Ellyse Perry (Picture: Cricket Australia)

The India vs Australia T20 international series is still in the balance sitting at 2-1 in the Australians’ favour. Winning by 21 runs, it was the veteran all-rounder Ellyse Perry that gave the visitors the edge in their batting innings.

The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the five takeaways from the match ahead of Game Four.

The series is well and truly in the balance

Coming in as the best Women’s cricket side in the world, Australia looked like they would take the series comfortably not having lost in the T20 format since last year’s T20 World Cup. As they lost that last match to the Indians, the Australians knew what proposition they would face in this series with experience and youth blended into this star-studded opposition.

After winning Game One comfortably, the Australians looked like their world-beating form would carry over and they might take the series without a loss. Game Two showed the class and the fight of the Indian side with Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma showing that the side is one that stands up to the strength of the top-ranked side.

Game Three was also a close-fought game, with the partnership of veteran all-rounder Ellyse Perry and Grace Harris being the difference.

With the five-game series still to be decided, who will be the player that will break the series open? Will it be acting Australian captain Alyssa Healy to get back into form with the bat? Will young bowling star Darcie Brown fire after a shaky start in game three? Or will Deepti Sharma continue to take wickets and hit big totals quickly?

Perry’s resurgence continues

Known as one of the world’s best all-rounders in the Women’s game, Ellyse Perry continues a resurgence in all formats but particularly in T20s. Having been a player that has traditionally had a lower strike-rate and has been an anchor more than an aggressive batter, Perry has been questioned by critics as to whether she can play in the shortest format anymore.

She silenced those critics in the Big Bash in part but particularly in the third T20 against India where she put on a career-best knock. After being sent into bat first at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, the Australians were struggling early with captain Alyssa Healy being bested by Renuka Singh and Tahlia McGrath being dismissed five balls later.

Perry then came to the crease to join Beth Mooney, the first time the former had batted in a T20 international since October last year. When Mooney’s wicket was taken, Ash Gardner soon followed and it was up to create a crucial partnership for the Australians if they were to win the game.

The duo of Harris and Perry put on a 55-run partnership in the next five overs to give the team a boost, despite getting out in the 17th over, Perry took out Player of the Match honours with her 75 runs coming off just 47 deliveries. She hit nine fours in this knock which contributed to her fastest half=-century in any format in Australia, her previous best being a 41-ball 50 in 2016.

Verma and Kaur made the Australians pay in the field

With young batting star Shafali Verma and captain Harmanpreet Kaur having such crucial innings with the bat, it was not always about their brilliance but the Aussies not taking their chances in the field. Verma’s trademark is her explosive batting, this was on show when she made 52 runs off just 41 deliveries which included four sixes.

Joining her at the crease after the fall of Jemimah Rodrigues after she was adjudged LBW, Kaur made sure that Verma had an anchor at the other end. Kaur struck a 27-ball 37 which also featured three boundaries, her influence was a calming one which helped the youngster to feel free to continue to be aggressive at the crease.

On 13 runs, Verma was given a life by Gardner who uncharacteristically dropped a chance while diving forward. After this her batting partner Kaur could have been out if not for a missed stumping opportunity by Healy.

Verma could have been removed just short of her half-century (48) when Brown looked to have broken through, however it was a no-ball, having over-stepped upon delivering the ball.

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Sharma does it again

After a fantastic knock in Game One of the series where she struck 36 off just 15 balls, India’s Deepti Sharma delivered again, although her effort was again in vain. Hitting 25 runs off 17 deliveries to remain not out in their batting innings, she was left with too much work to do.

With only Verma, Kaur and Sharma making over 25 runs each, Australia’s total of 172 was a bridge too far. The strike-rates of some of India’s batters, Mandhana, Devika Vaidya and Richa Ghosh didn’t help matters with all being below 50 without any real pay off for going slow with the first few deliveries.

In their bowling innings, Sharma collected two wickets for 40 runs off four overs, while being expensive Sharma was at least able to net the wickets of dangerous all-rounders Nicola Carey and Annabel Sutherland.

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Even contribution from India’s bowlers

Despite letting Australia get to a reasonable high total, the Indian bowlers were able to take eight wickets against the strong batting line-up. In the first two matches, India only took three wickets, one in each bowling innings and one in the super-over (Healy taken twice and Gardner taken in the super-over).

In this third match, it was promising to see the world-class bowlers and some of their young bowlers coming through take wickets more frequently. With Healy, McGrath. Gardner and Sutherland all departing for under 10 runs each, it was the spread of contributors for India that did the damage.

Their best was Renuka Singh who had an economy of six off her four overs as well as her bowling dismissing Healy and Harris who are both dangerous prospects. Also taking two wickets were Sharma and Vaidya who were more expensive giving up 40 runs and 22 runs respectively for their two wickets.

In this series it has been Anjali Sarvani that has impressed, although she was yet to be rewarded until this match. Her first international wicket was that of number one ranked batter McGrath followed by Perry after her match-winning innings. Sarvani will take confidence into the final two games in the series knowing that she can produce against the potent Australian batting line-up.

Game Four will take place in the early hours of Sunday morning (Australian time) with the Indian side eager to make sure they square the ledger to take the result of the series to Game Five.

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