Perry hails batting improvement after day three fightback

Australia’s “really clear plan” with the bat saw them successfully adjust to Mumbai conditions in the second innings, Ellyse Perry says

McGrath, Perry defy Indians to set up intriguing final day

Ellyse Perry believes Australia have "grown into" the one-off Test in India, hailing the conviction of their batting group following a day-three fightback that has set up what promises to be an absorbing final day.

Australia went to stumps at 5-233 in their second dig, holding a slim 46-run advantage over India in their first Test in the subcontinent nation in almost 40 years.

Perry played a hand in one of the significant partnerships that saw Australia significantly improve upon their first-innings 219 all out, and steadily reel in India’s lead of 187 on Saturday, scoring 45 in an 84-run stand with Tahlia McGrath.

But it was McGrath who stood tallest for the tourists, scoring her second half-century of the game, and sharing in another crucial stand of 66 with Alyssa Healy, before falling for 73 late in the day.

"We've just grown into this Test match a little bit and adjusted to the conditions as we've gone," Perry told reporters at the close of play.

"Today, I think there was a really clear plan there – obviously with the position of the game, it was just for us to bat for as long as we possibly could, and just to play what was in front of us without too much of a mind on what's going to happen down the track. 

"I think having that focus on the present was really helpful for all of us and I thought there were some really good patches and partnerships from us.

"As individual batters within our group, we all play a little bit differently so all of us have a slightly different method, but the big message today was just to be really strong in our conviction to those methods."

Harmanpreet has last laugh in intense battle with Healy

McGrath’s 73 followed the 50 she struck in the first innings, as the South Australian became the first visiting batter to score a half-century in each innings of a women’s Test in India.

Where her first-innings half-century had come at around a run-a-ball in a counterattacking knock after India had Australia 2-7 early, Saturday’s innings was one of grit and patience as she faced 177 deliveries.

"She's had a pretty great Test match," Perry said. 

"Tahlia's approach is always attacking, she plays a lot of great shots, she’s a stroke maker. 

"But today she just looked really tight. I think in amongst some of those really great drives, she was fantastically solid on defence.

"This has been a really important Test match for her in terms of her contribution to the team."

Tahlia McGrath cuts during her innings of 73 off 177 balls // Getty

After being bowled for four by Pooja Vastrakar in Australia’s first innings, Perry was able to see off the dangerous India quick on Saturday before steering her way to 45.

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

But the 33-year-old did tick off a small piece of history during her 91-ball stay at the crease, surpassing the legendary Belinda Clarke to become Australia’s second highest run scorer in women’s Tests.

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Perry has hit 925 runs in 21 innings across 12 Tests, ahead of Clarke’s 919 from 25 knocks.

Only Karen Rolton (1002 runs from 22 innings) is ahead of Perry, who will have a chance to overtake the great allrounder when Australia host South Africa at the WACA Ground in February.

"We've all got different approaches to that as batters, for me that's just being positive with my footwork either forward or back, and just letting the ball spin and then playing it late," Perry said of her approach on Saturday. 

"I really enjoyed it, it was great fun out there and it was awesome to bat with Tahlia, she's been superb."

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