Australia recover from stunning delivery to seal series win over India

Australia recovered in a nervous run chase, blown open by one breathtaking delivery, to claim a series win against India on Saturday night.

In a Twenty20 match where Ellyse Perry became Australia’s most-capped female cricketer across all formats, Australia restricted India to 9-118, despite a rearguard 10th-wicket partnership of 37, before finishing off the job in the final over with four wickets in hand.

With a 7-5 points lead in the series heading into the fixture, Australia needed just one victory from their final two T20 matches.

They required 25 runs off the final three overs and a brilliant late cameo by Tahlia McGrath (42 from 33 balls) got Australia over the line with five balls remaining.

However, the moment of the match came with the second ball of Australia’s run chase.

Shikha Pandey’s ball to dismiss Alyssa Healy was one of the great deliveries by a pace bowler.

Tahlia McGrath rescued Australia’s run chase.Credit:Getty

The 110.6km/h delivery started well outside off and swung in a little before a huge deviation off the seam caught Healy by surprise and beat her all ends up while trying to dig it out at the last minute.

As off-cutters go, it will be mighty hard to find a more unplayable delivery. Commentators Lisa Sthalekar and Brad Hodge struggled to remember anything like it, while clips of the ball went viral on social media within minutes.

India’s 10th-wicket stand and Pandey’s five-star delivery changed the complexion of the match but Australia’s late surge set up an unassailable series lead before Sunday’s third T20 match.

Panic swept through the Australian dugout after Healy’s dismissal. Beth Mooney couldn’t score a run in the second over, while Meg Lanning looked tentative as Australia crawled to 1-16 after four overs.

Tahlia McGrath and Georgia Wareham celebrate victory.Credit:Getty

Just as Australia began rebuilding, they lost three crucial wickets – Lanning (15), Ash Gardner (1) and Perry (2) – in quick succession to be 4-46. However, a late fightback saw Australia seal a memorable series win.

Perry, who made her national debut in 2007 as a 16-year-old, overtook Alex Blackwell in the record books by playing in her 252nd match for Australia.

Earlier, the visitors lost three wickets in their power play, courtesy of a fine spell by opening bowling Tayla Vlaeminck (2-18 from three), and struggled to kickstart their innings by slumping to 5-52 in the 10th over.

It was in sharp contrast to their fast start on Thursday night when they motored to 4-131 from 15.2 overs before rain prevented a result.

India’s batters were extremely loose with their shots and produced more risk than reward.

Two run-outs didn’t help their cause and aside from a very tough dropped catch by Gardner, the Australians were sharp in the field, particularly Perry in the outfield.

Australia squeezed India via scoreboard pressure, and a constant flow of wickets looked to have hampered any chance of posting a competitive total.

However, India recovered from 9-81 to post 9-118 after their 20 overs, with Pooja Vastrakar crunching 37 from 26 balls and No.11 Rajeshwari Gayakwad walking off the field without a run to her name.

Their 37-run stand was the second highest 10th-wicket partnership in women’s T20 international history. It was bettered only by a 44-run stand from Costa Rica pair Wendy Morales and Amelia Arias in a match against Belize in 2019.

Despite losing the momentum, Australia’s class with the bat at the death shone through.

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