The 155 target should have been a straight chase but Renuka, playing just his seventh T20, shattered the backbone of Australia’s batting with figures of 4 for 18 in four overs.
With Australia down at 49-5, India should have finished the job but allowed Ashleigh Gardner (52 steps on 35 balls) to change the game in two revolutionary stands of 51 and 47 with Grace Harris (37) and Alana King (18 steps on) respectively.
It’s that since our first match at #CWG2022, Australia have won by 3 wickets. #TeamIndia will look to bounce back in… https://t.co/bPrBD1oykT
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) 1659100624000
In the end, Australia easily overshot, showing why the reigning T20 and ODI world champions can win in any situation.
Gardner’s counter-attacking rounds were ones to remember as she played with the tail to knock down the points.
Powerplay overs belonged to Renuka who produced a brilliant fast bowling spell. She removed the dangerous Alyssa Healy in the first over to make the game interesting before getting rid of Beth Mooney and Australian skipper Meg Lanning.
A sharp inswinger led to the downfall of aggressive Tahlia McGrath, making it 34 for four with India all over their fanciful opponents.
However, India lost momentum as their main weapons – left arm spin twins Radha Yadav (0/42 in 4 overs) and Rajeshwari Gayakwad (0/24 in 2 overs) gave 66 in six overs between them to release the momentum. .
Rookie slow medium Meghna Singh was also pedestrian in the back when Gardner and King sent her on a leather hunt.
Earlier. Shafali Verma (48 out of 33) and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur‘s (52 of 34) stroked full innings entertained the Edgbaston crowd but the other batters disappointed.
Smriti Mandhana facing pacer Darcie Brown on the first ball of the competition marked the start of a turning point in women’s cricket, with the game aiming to reach the Olympics via the CWG route.
However, the Harmanpreet led side lost their way in the last five overs with five wickets falling for 39 runs. Smriti played some classy shots during his short spell before Shafali and Harmanpreet attacked the Aussie bowlers.
Hopefully, Shafali crushed Darcie for three straight fours in the 10th to set off alarm bells in the opposing camp. Harmanpreet launched with a paddle sweep from spinner Ashleigh Gardner and targeted the spinners as she usually does.
Her only six runs came in the 20th when she came out to dispatch Jess Jonassen long before a sweep brought her the seventh 50 at the T20 Internationals.
The lack of support from the other side hurt India’s chances of getting a formidable total with a weak contribution from the lower middle order.
A good start for the women’s cricket program
That said, the game was much more about numbers and stats on a balmy Friday afternoon.
The game did not involve hosts England, but long queues were seen before the match started as cheering fans poured into the 25,000 capacity Edgbaston Stadium. The stadium was half full but it was still making a lot of noise with every boundary coming from the Indians bat.
“We love cricket whether it’s men’s or women’s. I also watched the Indian men’s team here earlier this month, I paid £140 for it. Now I’ve paid around £22 “said Paramjeet, a resident of Birmingham.
Even non-cricket fans came to be part of the story.
“This is my second live game. I watched a men’s game in Antigua four years ago and now this. I’m here on a four day trip from Surrey and will be watching as many sports as I can. The atmosphere is great today,” Linda Casey said as she entered the stadium.