India v Australia ODIs

Mighty Mooney gives selectors a headache

Batter's whirlwind century creates a top-order conundrum for Australia ahead of their ODI tri-series in India

Laura Jolly, at BKC Ground, Mumbai

07 March 2018, 10:16 AM

Centurion Mooney makes most of warm-up

Beth Mooney has thrown a major curve ball at the national selectors with her stunning century in Australia's warm-up match against India A in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Mooney came in at No.3 for Australia and made the most of an opportunity to state her case for an ODI recall, finding the boundary 18 times before retiring on 115 from just 83 deliveries.

The Queenslander opened for Australia during the World Cup in the UK last year, but was squeezed out of the ODI XI for the Women's Ashes in October, replaced by Alyssa Healy at the top of the order as selectors sought to fit in an extra allrounder and bring greater balance to the side.

But Mooney returned with a bang in the T20 portion of the Ashes, producing knocks of 87no and 117no before being named the ICC's T20 Player of the Year.

A strong Rebel WBBL campaign followed and while Australia's strong one-day form during the Ashes, which saw them beat England 2-1, may have selectors reluctant to make too many changes, Mooney's recent body of work makes a near-irresistible case for inclusion – one that was only enhanced by Tuesday's performance.

A major reason for promoting Healy to the top of the order for the Ashes was to pitch her aggressive batting against the fiery pace of England quick Katherine Brunt.

India do not possess a bowler in their ODI squad who matches Brunt for pace, so Mooney could reclaim her place at the top of the order, with Healy shifted down, or should selectors wish to stick with a successful opening combination, she could be an option at No.3, with Australia captain Meg Lanning at No.4.

Should Mooney return, it is unlikely to be filling the place of injured allrounder Tahlia McGrath, as Australia are eager to avoid the same situation that confronted them in the World Cup semi-final against India when their five-player bowling attack was found sorely wanting in the face of a rampant Harmanpreet Kaur.

Mooney and Perry toiled in the Mumbai heat // cricket.com.au
Mooney and Perry toiled in the Mumbai heat // cricket.com.au

Therefore, a batter would have to make way – leaving plenty to play for when Australia again meet India A in a second warm-up, also in Mumbai, on Thursday.

Whatever happens, there'll be a batter desperately unlucky to miss out on a spot in Monday's opening ODI: of Australia's seven top batters, all but Lanning – who didn't play through injury – finished in the top seven run scorers of WBBL|03.

Speaking after Tuesday's 321-run win over an inexperienced India A line up, Mooney said she was thrilled to get a strong 50-over performance under her belt early in the tour.

"The message got sent out with the batting order and I thought I'd be batting at seven or eight, and I got a shock when I was at three," Mooney said.

"It's not a whole lot different to opening, I think, but I had a better plan today than I've had in the past and to be able spend some time in middle was really important for my game and my confidence as well.

Gardner cleared the rope six times // cricket.com.au
Gardner cleared the rope six times // cricket.com.au

"I've probably lacked a bit of confidence in the one-day format since the Ashes so to go out there and have a better plan and go out there and score runs especially in these conditions is invaluable.

"To get the monkey off the back early in the series, spend a bit of time in the middle and expose myself to different bowlers is very important."

While Mooney is accustomed to opening – the job she has performed for Australia and currently performs for both Queensland and Brisbane Heat – she's ready to take any opportunity that may come her way in India.

"There are some world-class players in the side and someone has to miss out," she said.

"That might still be me at the end of the warm-up games, so (to bat) anywhere in that order would be unbelievable for me.

"At the same time it's a very hard batting line-up to break into and I can only control what I can, so hopefully I get another chance on Thursday."

Australia will play a second warm-up against the same India A side on Thursday before flying to Vadodara, where the first of three ODIs will be played on March 12.

Cricket.com.au will provide news, scores, highlights and behind-the-scenes coverage from on the ground in India, while Fox Sports will broadcast all three ODIs and the T20I tri-series that will follow live. 

Australia tour of India

Australia ODI squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington

Australia T20 squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Naomi Stalenberg, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington

India ODI squad: Mithali Raj (Captain), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), Smriti Mandhana, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Sushma Verma, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shikha Pandey, Sukanya Parida, Pooja Vastrakar, Deepti Sharma

Warm-up match v India A, Australia won by 321 runs

Warm-up match v India A, BKC Ground, Mumbai, March 6

ODI series

First ODI Reliance Stadium, Vadodara, March 12

Second ODI Reliance Stadium, Vadodara, March 15

Third ODI Reliance Stadium, Vadodara, March 18

T20I tri-series

First T20I Australia v India, Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, March 22

Second T20I Australia v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 23

Third T20I India v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 25

Fourth T20I Australia v India, Brabourne Stadium, March 26

Fifth T20I Australia v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 28

Sixth T20I India v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 29

Final Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, March 31