Kaur helps India chase down Southern Stars

26 January 2016

Harmanpreet Kaur hits match-winning 46 as tourists reach 141 target with eight balls left

Southern Stars v India T20s, First T20


The match in a tweet: Wow! India shock Southern Stars with a Harmanpreet Kaur special, snatching a thrilling five-wicket win in Adelaide to take a 1-0 series lead

The turning point: India were in trouble with their top three batters back in the dug-out and the Southern Stars looked to have the game in their keeping. Then Harmanpreet Kaur came to the crease and smacked Jess Jonassen for off the third ball of the 14th over, and India barely looked back.

WATCH: Harmanpreet Kaur changes course of the match with her innings

The hero: The Stars looked firmly in the box seat with India 3-74 in the 12th over and the run rate creeping ever higher. India skipper and their best batter Mithali Raj was back in the sheds for four, Smriti Mandhana and Veda Krishnamurthy also out. 

Enter Harmanpreet Kaur. The aggressive right-hander is known for her love of hitting sixes and she produced something special for the Adelaide Oval crowd, smacking one six and five boundaries in a match-winning knock of 46 from 31 balls that stole the match from under Australia's noses.

While she couldn't hang on to hit the winning runs, dismissed in the 18th over, the work was done and Pandey and Patil saw India home with eight balls to spare.

Watch: Alison Mitchell's match wrap

The debutantes: Reserve wicketkeeper Beth Mooney and hard-hitting young gun Naomi Stalenberg were handed their maiden T20 caps ahead of the Australia Day clash, with Mooney joining her Brisbane Heat opening partner Grace Harris at the top of the order, chosen as a specialist batter after her strong WBBL campaign. 

She made an impressive start, scoring a run-a-ball 36 to hold up the Stars' top order that otherwise looked a little shaky, however she made some disappointing errors in the field – no doubt because she is more accustomed to a role behind the stumps. 

The Stars' deep batting line-up meant Stalenberg was not granted an opportunity at No.8, but she is likely to be given opportunities in the remaining matches.

The support cast: After India skipper Mithali Raj departed for four, Smriti Mandhana (29 off 25) and Veda Krishnamurthy (35 from 32) took the chase to the Australians, setting the stage for a chase that was finished off by Harmanpreet's big-hitting.

The consolation effort: The Southern Stars were finding the going tough at 5-81 in the 16th over, sorely needing someone to come in and lift the run rate. Fortunately for Australia, they bat deep and wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy, who opened for the Sixers in the WBBL, wasted to time providing the kick start Australia sorely needed coming in at No.7, striking three boundaries from the first over she faced. 

Healy's aggressive 40 from just 15 balls including two sixes, leaving India needing to produce a new record for a successful chase.

WATCH: Healy's highlight reel makes India sweat

The wicket: Meg Lanning is the No.1 batter in the world and her wicket was the hardest to come by during the Rebel Women's Big Bash League, so was to the shock of the Adelaide crowd – and the utter delight of India quick Shikha Pandey – when the Australian captain was bowled for 12 in the fourth over.

The commentary effort: As if Southern Stars Alex Blackwell and Alyssa Healy didn’t do enough with the bat, the pair was also mic'd up by the Nine Network's Wide World of Sports. 

Batting together in the latter stages of Australia's innings, Nine's commentators turned the microphone over to Blackwell and Healy to call the 18th over. It certainly seemed to spur Healy on, as she belted two sixes and a boundary from the over, as the Southern Stars innings finished with a flourish.

WATCH: Unprecedented access as Healy and Blackwell comentate an over from the middle

The stat: This was only the second time India have beaten the Southern Stars in a T20, and it took a new record for a successful run chase to do it.

What it all means: Both teams will now make the trip to Melbourne for game two at the MCG on Friday, with the Southern Stars to go there via the Allan Border Medal event tomorrow evening. 

The tourists will no doubt be buoyed by the batting efforts of Harmanpreet, Mandhana and Krishnamurphy, as well as their strong bowling performance that curtailed two of the world's best in Perry and Lanning. 

Australia's top-order will need to turn their fortunes around after a slow start, while Stalenberg may be shifted up the order to give the 21-year-old a chance to test herself against an international attack. 

Lauren Cheatle carried the drinks today but could become the Stars' third debutant of the series on Friday, should the Stars opt to switch up their bowling attack as they fight to level the series. 

The match is the first of three T20s between the Southern Stars and India before the two teams play a three-match ODI series early next month.

The women's match was the first in a double-header with the men's T20 game.

The opening match of the T20 series today falls on a significant day for both Australia and India; January 26 is when Australians mark Australia Day, while it is also the day Indians celebrate Republic Day.

Following today’s match, the T20 series moves to Melbourne for game two on Friday before game three in Sydney on Sunday.