Match Report:


Late wickets spoil Aussies' attritional day

Australia's revival was dealt a big blow with India's Harmanpreet Kaur taking two late wickets

Australia are clinging on in the one-off Test against India in Mumbai, after a fighting second-innings batting display led by vice-captain Tahlia McGrath pushed the match into a fourth and final day.

McGrath, Perry defy Indians to set up intriguing final day

McGrath hit a superb 73 and shared critical partnerships with Ellyse Perry (45) and Alyssa Healy (32) as Australia reached 5-233 at the close of play, with a lead of 46 runs.

A double-strike from India captain Harmanpreet Kaur removed both McGrath and Healy late in the day, before Annabel Sutherland (12no) and Ashleigh Gardner (7no) saw the tourists through to stumps.

Harmanpreet has last laugh in intense battle with Healy

Australia will still need to pull off something remarkable on the final day to prevent the hosts claiming their first Test win over their rivals.

But after two days dominated by India, it was tourists who walked off Wankhede Stadium on Saturday still in the match after a vastly improved day.

After wrapping up India’s innings for 406 in 36 minutes, the Australian top-order set about steadily chipping away at the hosts’ 187-run first-innings advantage.

The efforts of McGrath, Perry and Healy ensured India would have to bat again, and ultimately forced India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur to bring herself into the attack late in the day, desperately needing to break the partnership between Australia’s two leaders.

Harmanpreet Kaur celebrates the wicket of opposite number Alyssa Healy late in the day // Getty

McGrath had batted superbly to bring up her second fifty of the match off 119 deliveries, becoming the first visiting batter to hit twin fifties in a women’s Test in India in the process.

Where her first-innings half-century had come at around a run-a-ball in a counterattack following India’s two early wickets, Saturday’s innings was one of patience as she faced 177 deliveries.

The Australia vice-captain had already overturned one lbw call on 53 when, searching for answers, Kaur brought herself into the attack to immediate effect, getting McGrath lbw first ball.

That was overturned on review, but the India skipper got McGrath’s wicket four balls later, catching an inside edge that crashed into her stumps and breaking the 66-run stand between the Australian leaders.

Healy’s gutsy 101-ball knock then ended on 32 when she was dismissed lbw by Kaur after tensions spiked between the rival captains a ball earlier.

The Australian skipper had batted a delivery back to Kaur, who threw the ball hard back towards Healy – who was well within her crease – and the Australian captain raised her bat in self defence, with the ball catching the edge and running away to the boundary.

Kaur appealed for obstructing the field but after a debate with the umpires Healy was awarded four runs.

However, it did the trick in breaking Healy’s concentration, as she moved across the crease and was trapped plumb lbw a ball later.

She reviewed the decision and UltraEdge did show a spike, but replays displayed a gap between bat and ball and she was forced to depart, leaving Australia 5-221.

Sutherland survived two late scares – first overturning an lbw decision against Kaur, before surviving a second review from the India captain on ‘umpire’s call’ to make it through to stumps alongside Gardner.

After being dominated by India for the vast majority of the opening two days, Australia could finally lay claim to have the better of the hosts across the first two sessions of Saturday, with their progress only hampered by a trio of unfortunate dismissals.

Phoebe Litchfield avoided a repeat of her first-day diamond duck disaster when she successfully faced her first ball in Test cricket in India.

But a promising opening stand of 49 between Litchfield and Beth Mooney was again broken in unfortunate fashion when the latter was run out on 33.

Mooney, who had been in excellent touch hitting seven boundaries in her 37-ball innings, suffered what could only be deemed a brain fade in the 12th over.

After fending away a delivery from Sneh Rana directly to Richa Ghosh at silly point, she mindlessly wandered forward out of her crease, realising the danger and reeling back around a moment too late as the quick-thinking Ghosh threw down the stumps.

Mooney pays the ultimate price for brainfade run out

Litchfield had faced 44 deliveries to work her way to 18 when she was bowled attempting to reverse sweep a full delivery from Rana, leaving Australia 2-63 at lunch, still trailing by 124 runs.

Perry and McGrath then looked rock solid in the middle throughout an 80-run third-wicket stand – Australia’s biggest of the match – as Kaur, for the first time in the match, starting having to search for answers.

First-innings destroyer Pooja Vastrakar was seen off by both right-handers, and with the frontline spinners equally unable to make inroads, Kaur gave two overs to part-time spinner Jemimah Rodrigues without luck.

Ultimately Perry’s march towards what seemed an inevitable maiden Test fifty on Indian soil ended in innocuous fashion on 45 when she edged off-spinner Rana down leg-side and into the gloves of Yastika Bhatia.

The faint edge that cost Ellyse Perry her wicket

McGrath and Healy saw Australia to 3-156 at tea, 31 runs adrift of India’s first-innings total.

Saturday started brightly for Australia after the hosts resumed on 7-376; after toiling without success through the final over of the second day, Australia quicks Sutherland (2-41) and Kim Garth (2-58) took just 36 minutes to wrap up India’s innings on Saturday morning.

Deploying a barrage of shorter pitched bowling not seen the previous day, Sutherland had Pooja Vastrakar caught on 47 pulling a bouncer straight to Garth at square leg, breaking a 122-run eighth-wicket stand.

Sharma was then bowled by Garth for a career-best 78, having added eight runs to her overnight score, before the short-ball worked again when Renuka Singh (8) looked to fend off another Sutherland bouncer and chipped a simple catch to gully.

India’s 406 all out was nonetheless their highest Test total against Australia, and have them a more-than-handy 187-run first-innings advantage.

Gardner’s services with the ball were not required as she finished with 4-100 from a mammoth 41 overs.

Australia's CommBank Tour of India

December 21-24: Test match, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

December 28: First ODI, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

December 30: Second ODI, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

January 2: Third ODI, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

January 5: First T20I, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai

January 7: Second T20I, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai

January 9: Third T20I, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai

Australia squad: Alyssa Healy (c), Tahlia McGrath (vc), Darcie Brown, Lauren Cheatle (Test only), Heather Graham, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Grace Harris (T20s only), Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham

India Test squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Richa Ghosh (wk), Sneh Rana, Shubha Satheesh, Harleen Deol, Saika Ishaque, Renuka Singh Thakur, Titas Sadhu, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Pooja Vastrakar