CommBank Series v India - ODIs
Miracle in Mackay! Aussies pull off dramatic chase
Beth Mooney produces a knock for the ages as Australia overcome the biggest challenge of their 26-match ODI winning streak
Adam Burnett in Mackay
24 September 2021, 11:31 PM AEST
Australia's world record winning streak has been extended to 26 in the most dramatic circumstances in Mackay, after Beth Mooney and Tahlia McGrath engineered a stunning comeback victory over India in the second ODI.
At 4-52 in the 16th over in pursuit of 275, and having opted to bring in bowling allrounder Nic Carey as the replacement for injured opener Rachael Haynes, Australia's hopes of a fightback appeared remote at best.
But such an assessment was to discount the brilliance of Mooney, whose 125 not out must surely rank among the great one-day innings in recent memory, and McGrath (74), who enjoyed the night of her life with three wickets and her maiden ODI half-century as Australia snuck home with five wickets to spare on the final ball of the match.
For a small but vocal contingent of Indians in the south-western corner of the Great Barrier Reef Arena, there was cause for optimism from the outset, as Smriti Mandhana (86) and Shafali Verma (22) piled on 74 inside 12 overs after again being sent in to bat.
By the 10th over Australia had spin on from both ends, with Sophie Molineux joining Ashleigh Gardner in the attack, and it was the former who broke the opening stand when Verma played on.
Across the next 10 overs Australia pegged back the run rate, taking wickets via the run-out of Mithali Raj and some extra pace from Darcie Brown, who hurried Yastika Bhatia into a miscued pull shot.
Australia's task was made all the more challenging when leg-spinner Georgia Wareham left the field without bowling a ball, having injured her quad while running in the outfield.
At 3-95, Mandhana was settled and looking in splendid touch and when 17-year-old second-gamer Richa Ghosh (44) got going, the momentum of the innings swung again.
Together they put on 76 in 12.3 overs to dominate the middle phase of the game until, for the second time in as many innings, Mandhana picked out the fielder in the point region to give her wicket away.
After taking 0-37 from four overs in game one, Perry collected 0-32 from five, though those figures were inflated when she returned to the attack late in the innings for just one over and was unlucky to give away two boundaries via a misfield and a top-edge that flew over wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy's head.
Returning in place of Haynes in a rejigged Australian line-up, Carey (0-26 off 8) found her line and length with aplomb, while McGrath produced a career-best 3-45 from nine overs.
But where India might have been expected to wilt in the back half of their innings, they instead rallied, as Deepti Sharma (23), Pooja Vastrakar (29) and Jhulan Goswami (28no) all made valuable contributions to leave Australia needing to produce their second-highest ever successful chase to keep their winning streak alive.
And the run chase couldn't have started more disastrously, as India gave their supporters a tantalising preview of what they might be able to deliver with the pink ball under lights in next week's one-off Test on the Gold Coast with a sizzling new-ball display.
From the third ball of the innings, veteran quick Goswami bowled a beautiful off-cutter to slice through Healy (0).
Goswami bowled 10 dot balls from her first 11, while at the other end, in just her second ODI, Meghna Singh began with two straight maidens, finding nice outswing and very nearly knocking over Meg Lanning with one that appeared to go the other way.
In the sixth over, and just a ball after Mooney was dropped at square leg, India claimed the massive wicket of Lanning (6), whose pull shot from Singh flew off the bat and down to deep backward square leg, where a running Rajeshwari Gayakwad took a superb catch.
From there, Australia's situation went precarious to calamitous. Perry (2) was caught short by a direct hit from Vastrakar while attempting a quick single, and then Vastrakar featured again in finding the edge of Gardner's bat as the ball flew through to Yastika at first slip.
In their 98th innings together, Australia's veteran batting trio of Healy, Lanning and Perry had produced their lowest combined aggregate of runs (eight).
It was 4-52 when Mooney and McGrath – neither of whom were required at the crease in the first ODI – came together for what proved to be the game's pivotal partnership.
Mooney was settled at that point, having survived India's superb new-ball burst, and she dictated the early part of the stand with a clever combination of quick singles and the occasional boundary, including one neatly-executed reverse paddle that raced down to the rope on the off-side.
As the dew settled in on the outfield and the ball began to skid onto the batters, McGrath found her feet in style, the tall right-hander playing a couple of delightful cover drives that threaded the in-field and ever-so-slowly helped begin to shift the momentum.
The Adelaide Strikers top-order batter had only faced 61 balls in her ODI career going into this match but she was soon taking the lion's share over Mooney, who sensed her partner's momentum and played accordingly, rotating the strike adeptly.
Between overs, the Perth Scorchers opener could be seen talking animatedly with her junior partner, the pair plotting and strategising as they continued to reduce the gap between runs required and balls remaining.
In the 32nd over, McGrath raised the bat for her maiden ODI half-century and a few balls later she survived when Goswami spilled a tough chance at long-off.
Mooney reached her 50 moments later and then the two upped the ante, collecting 24 from the next three overs to bring up a century stand and bring the runs required to under eight per over.
Which is when the script was flipped again.
After breathing life into the run chase with the innings of her international career to date, McGrath was 74 when she picked out Yastika at backward square leg from an innocuous Deepti Sharma off-break.
It brought Carey (39no) to the middle, and the diminutive left-hander barely skipped a beat as she quickly fell into step with Mooney, the two running hard between the wickets to keep the run chase well and truly alive.
As an absorbing contest reached its closing stages, Mooney took her performance to the next level, lofting over mid-on one minute, ramping over short third the next, then flicking behind square to find crucial boundaries while keeping the Indian bowlers guessing.
Her century celebration was subdued as she eyed a more meaningful prize, and with 33 runs needed from the final three overs, the match was truly in the balance.
India then gambled with spin across the next two overs, evidently figuring pace off the ball would make boundaries more difficult to come by, but Mooney had them outfoxed, tucking one four behind square leg and another through cover.
The equation came down to 13 from the final over as Goswami made a belated return to the crease, and after Australia collected five from the first two balls, the Indian quick bowled a beamer that struck Carey on the helmet.
The Australians could only manage four from the next three balls, leaving three required from the final delivery, with Carey on strike.
Yet more drama was to follow, as Goswami delivered a second waist-high full toss, which Carey hit straight to square leg and was caught.
The umpires convened, and ultimately the third umpire ruled a no-ball, leaving Australia this time needing two from the final ball, which was also a free hit.
Carey faced up again, and this time she crashed the ball to long-on and she and Mooney took off, sprinting between the wickets for the two runs they needed to win an instant classic.
Australia XI: Alyssa Healy (wk), Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning (c), Ellyse Perry, Ashleigh Gardner, Tahlia McGrath, Nicola Carey, Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham, Hannah Darlington, Darcie Brown.
India XI: Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Mithali Raj (c), Richa Ghosh (wk), Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav.
CommBank Series v India
Australia lead India 4-0 on points
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Darcie Brown, Maitlan Brown, Stella Campbell, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Georgia Redmayne, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
India Test and ODI squad: Mithali Raj (c), Harmanpreet Kaur (vc), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Shikha Pandey, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh, Ekta Bisht.
India T20I squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Shikha Pandey, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh (wk), Harleen Deol, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Renuka Singh.
First ODI: Australia won by nine wickets
Sep 24: Australia won by five wickets
Sep 30 – Oct 3: Test match, Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast (D/N)