Melbourne, February 12: Opener Smriti Mandhana's 37-ball 66 went in vain as Australia claimed the tri-nation women's T20 series with a gritty 11-run win, following a sensational five-wicket haul by spinner Jess Jonassen in Melbourne on Wednesday (February 12). Set a target of 156, India was all out for 144 after being 115 for three in the 15th over.
Seasoned left-arm orthodox bowler Jonassen was the star of the show with brilliant figures of 5 for 12 in four overs, making her only the third Australian bowler to claim a five-for in the women's T20 format. "It was a really good all-round performance. Getting Mandhana was the game-changer, she was whacking us all over the park," said Australian captain Meg Lanning.
Opting to bat, Australia managed to post 155 for six in its stipulated 20 overs. Chasing a challenging target, Mandhana was up to the task at hand and smashed 12 boundaries during her knock at the Junction Oval. However, Mandhana's dismissal in the 15th over, caught brilliantly by Nicola Carey near the deep mid-wicket boundary, turned the match in Australia's favour as it put the brakes on India's scoring while at the same time taking wickets.
It was the departure of skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, in the 16th over, which dashed India's hopes of a victory. "In the last three overs we couldn't take the pressure and ended up losing wickets," said Harmanpreet, reflecting on the loss. Earlier in the day, India's Rajeshwari Gayakwad leaked 19 runs in the last over to let Australia off the hook and post a challenging total.
Opener Beth Mooney, who was adjudged player of the series for her 208 runs in the tournament, top-scored for the host with a patient 71 off 54 balls, which included nine boundaries. In the end overs, Australian batswomen were finding it difficult to free their arms. However, Mooney and Rachael Haynes (18 off 7 balls) hit out the last twelve balls for 28 runs to prop up their side.
Opting to bat, Australia was dealt an early blow when Alyssa Healy (4) was dismissed in the very first over of the summit clash by Deepti Sharma, extending the wicketkeeper's woeful run with the bat. Mooney found an ally in Ashleigh Gardner (26), with whom the opener added 52 runs for the second wicket, and then in Lanning, who also made 26 during a 51-run third-wicket stand.
Deepti, who opened the bowling, finished with impressive figures of 2/30 in her four-over spell, while Gayakwad had 2/32. India's 16-year-old No. 3 Richa Ghosh scored 17 runs off 23 balls in her international debut.
BRIEF SCORES: Australia: 155/6 in 20 overs (Beth Mooney 71 not out, Deepti Sharma 2/30) beat India: 144 all out in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 66, Jess Jonassen 5/12) by 11 runs.