An inspired India stunned world champions Australia by 16 runs to kick off their Super Six campaign in style at the ICC Women’s World Cup cricket tournament in Sydney on Saturday.
Australian skipper Karen Rolton’s decision to field first backfired as Indian openers Anagha Despandhe (45) and Anjum Chopra (76) gave a steady start to the visitors’ innings.
A late onslaught by Amita Sharma (31) and Harmanpreet Kaur helped the Indians accumulate 73 runs in the last seven overs and take the total to a respectable 234 for five in the alloted 50 overs.
Although Australia started their run chase on a confident note,the Jhulan Goswami-led Indian attack restricted the hosts to 219 for seven in their 50 overs. For the Aussies,this was their second defeat in the tournament.
The result leaves Australia on two points with a couple of Super Six matches still left and they must ensure victories in all the remaining matches besides hoping that other teams falter.
Indian batter who had been out of touch so far in the tournament,struck form today with Despandhe and Chopra putting on 69 runs for the opening wicket. India-born Aussie Lisa Sthalekar ended the partnership,picking up Despandhe who was caught by Lauren Ebsary in the deep mid-wicket in the 21st over.
The Indians lost their second wicket soon after in the form of Thirush Kamini (2) in the 28th over. The in-form Mithali Raj (44) walked in and combined with Chopra to add 56 runs for the second wicket and lay the foundation for the onslaught.
The Indian innings accelerated after the dismissal of Chopra and Raj with Amita Sharma striking three boundaries in a 31-run cameo which came off 22 balls.
Sthalekar was the pick of the Aussie bowlers,picking up three wickets for 52 runs.
Australia,however,done in by a poor start and were in severe trouble after losing their top three batters by the 15th over.
Shelley Nitschke was the first to go after being bowled by a superb Jhulan Goswami delivery that clipped the top of her off stump and Australia’s were compounded further after Rolton and Sthalekar departed.
The hosts were tottering at 3 for 53 when Sthalekar was caught behind off Gouher Sultana.
Alex Blackwell (54) made a desperate effort to keep Australia in the hunt,but her efforts went in vain as the required run-rate kept soaring and ultimately proved too much. For India,Reena Malhotra and Sultana scalped two wickets each,giving away 32 and 33 runs respectively,while Goswami,Rumeli Dhar and Sharma picked up one wicket apiece.