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Another Indian victory



26 January is an important day for both Australia and India, being Australia Day and Republic Day respectively, in the two countries. From a cricket point of view, it marked the first of three Twenty20 Internationals between both the men's and women's sides at one of the most beautiful grounds in the world, the Adelaide Oval.

These T20 Internationals are crucial, with all teams using them as a perfect chance to blood a few new players, try different combinations and build towards the big goal of the World T20 to be held in India in only a few months time.

India_Australia_ODI_T20I_seriesUnlike the men's game, where both teams met regularly in all the formats, the female teams haven't played against each other for three years. The last time India played on Australian soil was during the World Cup in 2009.

The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars were on a winning streak when it comes to the shortest format, having won the last three World T20s. Adding to that, all the Australian players had just come off the successful inaugural Rebel Women's Big Bash League; they were ready to go.

That certainly didn't stop this fired up Indian women's team. Having won the toss they decided to put Australia in to bat, believing that they could chase down any total. It seems more and more that in shortest format, teams are opting to chase, giving their batters knowledge of the target so they can accordingly pace their innings.

The Southern Stars had two new debutants, Naomi Stalenberg and Beth Mooney, plus a new opening partnership of Mooney and the powerhouse Grace Harris. It is important to note that Harris has only represented Australia on seven occasions, and whilst she has impeccable timing, her last 6 innings only yielded 30 runs.

On the other side of the coin, the Indians stuck with the experience of Jhulan Goswami, who was playing her 200th game for her country. That plan seemed to work as Harris went for a duck in the first over.

However, the fall of the wicket brought in Meg Lanning, ranked the number one batter in T20 International cricket, as well as Player of the Series in the WBBL where she amassed 560 runs at an impressive average of 56. Again that didn't faze the Indian bowlers, who kept it extremely tight restricting Lanning to 8 dot balls of her first 12 deliveries.

All the bowlers were doing their job, keeping the runs down and it seemed taking the pace off the ball was even more effective as they not only went for close to a run a ball but were able to pick up wickets. Poonam Yadav was the pick of the Indian bowlers, picking up the wickets of both Ellyse Perry and Mooney.

At one stage, the Australians looked like they would struggle to post a score of 120, but in walked Alyssa Healy. Known to have opened the batting not only for Australia, but recently for the Sydney Sixers, she continued her form despite batting as low as seven.

From her first few deliveries, her eye was in and she showed a liking for the Adelaide wicket. Healy's partnership with Alex Blackwell of 59 runs off just 32 deliveries boosted the Australians to the respectable total of 140.

Healy, starting to be known as the finisher for the Australians, hit five fours and two sixes to score an explosive, unbeaten 41 off only 15 deliveries, going at an outstanding strike rate of 273.33.

For India to win, they needed to chase a record score against a side which had won three World T20s on the trot. Enter the new faces of the Indian women's team: Smriti Mandhana, Veda Krishnamurthy and Harmanpreet Kaur.

Despite losing the legendary Mithali Raj in the second over, Mandhana and Krishnamurthy kept things going and dispatched the ball to all parts of the ground.

As Alyssa Healy stated after the match, "…they (the Indians) played out of their skin and with freedom."

Known to hit the ball square due to their supple wrists, they also showed their ability to hit down the ground, with Mandhana (29) and Krishnamurthy (35) posting an important 55 run partnership. Even the loss of Mandhana didn't stem the flow of runs. Instead, it increased it to an exciting (if you were an Indian supporter) pace.

Kaur came out with the same intent that was shown by Healy, as the Southern Stars tried to find ways to keep the required run rate climbing. It got to a stage where it was just under 9 runs an over, but Kaur had other plans smashing, six boundaries and clearing the ropes once.

Her 46 runs got the equation down to a run a ball and with five wickets still waiting in the shed, Anuja Patil hammered the nail in the coffin, hitting two boundaries to give India only their second victory against Australia in T20 cricket.

India has shown in the past that once they get the winning feeling, they become even more difficult to play as the belief will now be there.

With the second T20 due, it will be interesting to see if there will be any changes to the sides, as both Australia and India will be looking ahead and planning for the World T20 in March.

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An all-rounder who retired from International Cricket in 2013, Lisa made her debut for Australia in...

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