Report

Ellyse Perry claimed her 300th international wicket but Australia conceded a hefty total

India 377 for 8 decl (Mandhana 127, Deepti 66) vs Australia

Fifteen balls, a flurry of fours, an erroneous lbw verdict, a second Test wicket for Stella Campbell, and a short-lived Ellyse Perry vs Jhulan Goswami battle headlined the brief post-dinner interval that saw India declare at 377 for 8, shortly after the fall of half-centurion Deepti Sharma.

Back-to-back fours off Campbell helped Sharma add to India’s 28 tally in a frenetic 15-minute period in the second session of day three. Her acceleration was halted, however, when she was given out lbw while failing to connect with a pull. Replays showed the ball had pitched outside legstump. Goswami, meanwhile, just about got underneath two Perry bouncers, even swatting one of them for four, before the India captain Mithali Raj declared.

The opening session had been largely sluggish, with Australia picking up just two wickets before dinner, the second of those being Perry’s 300th international strike. Australia also dropped two chances, which meant India gathered 83 runs in a session spanning 40.4 overs, going into the break at 359 for 7, which had already become the highest by any visiting side against Australia.

There was little sign of urgency, or the intent to force a result in the four-day game, despite holding the scoreboard edge in India’s approach early on. Sharma, who was unbeaten on 163-ball 58* at the break, put on 45 with Taniya Bhatia, building on India’s overnight 276 for 5. But a scoring rate of under one for vast stretches of the innings saw them record a run rate of just 2.05 in the first session, the lowest across the three days.

Before Perry removed Pooja Vastrakar for 13 at the stroke of the dinner break, becoming the first woman with the double of 5000 runs and 300 wickets in international cricket, Stella Campbell offered the reverie-snapping breakthough, with her second ball of the day. The tall debutant’s nagging fourth-stump line, helped by healthy bounce and carry off the drop-in surface, forced Taniya to prod at the outswinger for wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy to gobble up it up and give the 19-year old her maiden Test wicket.

Sharma had got off the blocks off the very first ball she faced on the day, tucking Tahlia McGrath fine for a single. Thereafter, offspinner Ashleigh Gardner, who remained the most economical bowler in Australia’s eight-pronged attack, held one end up for a 12-over stretch, with Perry finding swing early to set up a battle with the right-left batting tandem.

Having picked up her first wicket of the series in the second session of the truncated day two, Perry almost had a second – and fifth if all dropped chances across three days are to be considered – with her third ball of the day. An inswinger, Perry’s yorker struck right-hander Bhatia on toe on the off-and-middle line but there was hardly an appeal for lbw. From that lifeline on duck, Bhatia, playing her first match since the ODI series against England in June, unfurled an array of cover drives and cuts to before perishing to Campbell for a 40-ball 19.

Sharma then added 40 with the No. 7 Vastrakar, playing mostly risk-free against spinners and pacers, riding on five scares since day two, closes shaves past first-slip Lanning either side of drinks included. The closest of them of was when, on 24, she nearly chopped on, and her attempt to brush the ball, rolling millimeteres away from the off stump, almost put her in further jeopardy. The standout shot among her bouquet of muscular slog-sweeps came off Gardner, into the cowcorner to take India past 300. A single off her 148th ball in the innings took her to her second straight Test fifty, the previous having anchored a rescue act against England in Bristol.

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha

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