Women’s Sport: India shock Australia in thrilling World-Cup opener

Australia v India - ICC Women's T20 Cricket World Cup

Defending T20 World-Cup champions Australia were stunned in Sydney earlier, as a magnificent bowling effort from India saw them topple the hosts and claim an unlikely victory.

Talk before the tournament had surrounded the invincibility of Australia. As a side that had won 26 of its previous 31 T20’s, and beaten India just last week in the Tri-Nations final, many predicted this game to be comprehensive. 

At the half-way stage, it appeared to be heading exactly this way. India’s total of 132-4 seemed at least 15 runs under-par, and given they had six wickets in hand, it is questionable why the likes of Deepti Sharma (49) and Veda Krishnamurthy (9) did not seek to accelerate earlier.

In truth, Australia’s bowling was characteristically efficient. Molly Strano (0-15), called up just two days ago in place of the injured Tayla Vlaeminck was tidy in the powerplay, as was the ever-present Elysse Perry.

Despite an onslaught from the hugely talented 16-year-old Shafali Verma (29) who will undoubtedly light up this tournament, most of the Indian batters struggled to get going. Jess Jonassen (2-24) claimed the prize scalps of Mandhana and Kaur, the latter of which came in fortunate circumstances, as the ball rebounded off her front foot, only to be stumped by Healy.

Delissa Kimmince (1-24) and Perry (1-15), also claimed one apiece and at the interval, 133 looked to be a straightforward total to chase down. With Australia boasting the likes of Alyssa Healy, Meg Lanning and Beth Mooney in their ranks, it was no surprise that the innings began favourably for the home side.

It was a tale of juxtaposing fortunes for the two openers, however. Despite scoring just 24 runs in her previous six games, Healy looked a different player in Sydney this evening, whilst Mooney, who had a stellar WBBL campaign struggled to get the ball away.

Mooney was dismissed by Shikha Pandey for just 6 before Rajeshwari Gayakwad got rid of Lanning shortly after.

Even at this stage though, the clean hitting of Healy down the other end was enough to keep Australia on top of the rate. Supported by Ash Gardner, Healy raced to 50 in just 9.4 overs, before the turning point came. 

Australia v India - ICC Women's T20 Cricket World Cup

Poonam Yadav, the 28-year-old leg-spinner, tossed up a googly and Healy, looking to turn the ball away square, sliced the ball straight back into the hands of the bowler. From that point onwards, it was advantage India and advantage Yadav.

Finishing with figures of 4-19, Yadav followed up the wicket of Healy in her next over by taking two in two balls, which included clean-bowling Elysse Perry for a golden-duck. She narrowly missed out on a hat-trick as keeper Taniya Bhatia put down Jonassen first-ball, but she did dismiss the Aussie all-rounder in her next over.

By this point, Australia had crumbled. Ash Gardner offered some resistance (34) but when she was caught and bowled by Pandey, the result was secured.

Australia was eventually all out for 115 with a ball to spare. They will likely have to win all three of their remaining games if they wish to progress to the semi-finals of their own tournament.

The competition itself has been thrown wide open, and India today proved that anything is possible in Cricket.

The Sydney Showground was packed-out, with supporters from both countries, whilst the first use of front-foot technology was well received and effective.

If today’s match is anything to go by, then this World-Cup promises to be one for the ages.

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