The experienced Deepti Sharma blazed away to an unbeaten 15-ball-36 to power the Indian women’s team to 172 for five against Australia in the first T20I.
Sharma smashed four successive boundaries in the final over, bowled by Megan Schutt, to boost India’s run rate after Richa Ghosh (36 off 20 balls) and the returning Devika Vaidya (25 off 24) added 56 quick runs for the fifth wicket. In all, Sharma hit eight boundaries in her blistering knock, while Ghosh found the fence five times and cleared it twice.
India were off to a flying start with the teenaged Shafali Verma smashing Megan Schutt for a four and a six over long-on in the first over, which yielded 12 runs. The seasoned Smriti Mandhana (28 of 22 balls) cut debutant Kim Garth for a four, before Shafali slashed Ellyse Perry on the off-side for her second maximum, a ball after an inside edge went past the keeper for a boundary.
However, Perry had her revenge when she cramped Shafali for room on the leg side and the batter ended up giving a catch to skipper Alyssa Perry. This was the fourth time Perry has dismissed the 18-year-old Indian power-hitter.
Mandhana, who has got a fine record against the Australians, showed her class when she scored four boundaries off Garth, the flurry of fours propelling India to 45 for one in just four overs.
The 17-run fourth over was followed by the wicket of Jemimah Rodrigues, who succumbed to pressure after four dot balls by Perry, the batter’s mistimed pull landing in the hands of Annabel Sutherland. Schutt was brought back after a wicket maiden by Perry, and she conceded just three runs to keep India at 48 for two at the end of the six powerplay overs at the DY Patil Stadium.
Healy introduced the off-spin bowling of Ashleigh Gardner, and Harmanpreet Kaur (21 off 23) drove her through covers for her first boundary. Healy made another bowling change and it worked as Sutherland had the well-set Mandhana caught by Beth Mooney at point in a rather soft dismissal. After a couple of quiet overs, Harmanpreet pulled Sutherland for a welcome boundary.
However, Garth had the prized scalp of Harmanpreet — her first for Australia after representing Ireland for a decade — when the Indian captain played away from her body and hit it straight to fielder at cover. The duo of Ghosh and Vaidya then took over.