Rain played spoilsport at the Carrara Oval even as India opener Smriti Mandhana showed glimpses of her capability to take the attack to the opposition on the opening day of the pink-ball Test against Australia on Thursday
India 132 for 1 (Mandhana 80*, Raut 16*) vs Australia
The first day ended with India on 132-1 and Mandhana and Punam Raut unbeaten on 80 and 16 respectively. The only wicket that fell was of Shafali Verma in the opening session. Rain had forced an early call for tea before the day was eventually called off. The remaining days of the ongoing pink-ball Test will begin 30 minutes earlier.
Resuming the second session at 101/1, the visitors managed to add 13 more runs before rain once again interrupted play. No more play was possible in the second session and the players had to remain off the park for the rest of the day.
Earlier, India openers Mandhana and Shafali brought out their attacking game to the middle to frustrate Australia in the opening session. Sent into bat, the visitors got off to a rollicking start as openers Shafali and Mandhana put on 43 runs inside the first ten overs.
Mandhana made full use of wide deliveries being bowled to her and she kept on dispatching the loose balls for boundaries. She kept on marching ahead and brought up her half-century in the 15th over of the innings. This was Mandhana’s third score of fifty-plus in Test cricket. In the first two overs, Australia’s fielding was dismal, to say the least, as they dropped quite a few chances and both openers got quite a few reprieves.
The 93-run opening stand finally came to an end in the 26th over as Sophie Molineux sent Shafali (31) back to the pavilion. In the end, Mandhana and Raut ensured that the visitors do not lose any more wickets before the interval.
Smriti Mandhana was elegance personified during her sublime unbeaten half-century as India made a solid start, reaching 101 for 1 at the dinner break on the first day of their one-off Day/Night pink ball Test against Australia here on Thursday.
Mandhana, who peppered the off-side field repeatedly with some gorgeous shots to reach 64 off 112 balls with 13 boundaries, added 93 for the opening stand with Shafali Verma (31 off 64 balls), who played the second fiddle during their partnership.
The Australian team’s decision to field first after laying a green strip for the visitors did seem to backfire as Mandhana attacked them straightaway during the first hour of play.In fact, it was a case of role reversal which perhaps caught the Australians off-guard as Shafali was more intent on playing defensive game as her senior partner attacked with great gusto.
Debutant Darcie Brown got some special punishment as Mandhana hit her for a number of boundaries both on the off-side as well as a few whip shots on the leg-side.
Ellyse Perry also took a few overs to find the right length as the elegant left-hander reached her run-a-ball fifty in no time with a cover drive of Tahlia McGrath.
Whenever Mandhana bisected between point and cover or cover or mid-off, it was the most pleasant sight.
In case of Shafali, she did hit four boundaries but also looked a bit scratchy having offered a couple of chances — one to Meg Lanning in the slips which was a reflex catch and the other to Annabel Sutherland stationed at mid-on
Finally she was gone trying to hit left-arm spinner Sophie Molineux against the turn and offered a sitter to McGrath at mid-off.
Mandhana’s innings had two parts — while the first fifty came at break neck speed, the next 14 runs took 62 deliveries as she played the defensive game till lunch in the company of Punam Raut (1 batting).
Brief Scores: India 1st Innings 101/1 in 33 overs (Smriti Mandhana 64 batting, Shafali Verma 31; Sophie Molineux 1/18) vs Australia
India have named two debutants in Yastika Bhatia and Meghna Singh.
India XI: Smriti Mandhana, Shafail Verma, Punam Raut, Mithali Raj (c), Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad
Australia have named four Test debutants. Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham, Darcie Brown and Stella Campbell.
Australia XI: Alyssa Healy (wk), Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning (c), Ellyse Perry, Tahlia McGrath, Ashleigh Gardner, Annabel Sutherland, Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham, Darcie Brown, Stella Campbell