India, Australia run out of time despite declarations as pink-ball Test ends in draw

India celebrate a wicket © Getty Images

Ellyse Perry scored her fourth consecutive fifty plus score in Tests and Shafali Verma made her third fifty in her second match in the format, while India pacers led by Jhulan Goswami showed their skills on either side of Verma’s knock as the pink-ball Test at the Carrara Stadium ended in a draw on Sunday (October 3).

Realistically needing to bat out 32 overs to save the Test, Alyssa Healy started the second innings with a pull off Meghna Singh but the wicket-keeper couldn’t survive Goswami as she dragged one onto the stumps in the third over. Beth Mooney and Meg Lanning were cautious without looking in too much trouble even though India bowlers got the ball to move.

Mooney drove Pooja Vastrakar through covers for a four before Lanning also found her first boundary off Goswami. But Vastrkar got the revenge when Mooney went for a pull and was caught by Rajeshwari Gayakwad at the boundary for 11.

From 28 for two, Lanning and Perry batted out the overs before both the captains agreed to shake hands at the start of the final hour with Australia’s score reading 36 for two in 15 overs.

In the second innings, India started steadily scoring only two runs from the first three overs. Smriti Mandhana eventually got the innings going when she clipped Brown to fine-leg for a four. At the other end, Verma was circumspect and was on two off 17 balls before she edged Perry through the slip cordon for a boundary.

Meanwhile, Mandhana also top-edged a short-pitched delivery from Brown over Healy’s head when she tried to pull the speedster. Verma soon found her touch as she flicked Brown through mid-wicket for a four. The duo brought up yet another fifty-run partnership – their third in four innings together in the format – when Verma ran out of patience and smashed Stella Campbell’s bouncer through mid-wicket for another boundary.

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Just when it looked like the duo would continue to take on the host’s bowling, Australia got the breakthrough in the form of Mandhana when the southpaw slog-swept Molineux and was caught brilliantly by Gardner at deep mid-wicket for 31.

With the score reading 70 for one from 18 overs, Yastika Bhatia was promoted to number three, but she didn’t last long with Gardner dismissing her for just three. From there, it was slow going for Verma and Raut for a while with no boundaries coming in eight consecutive overs.

Eventually Raut broke the deadlock when she swept Molineux for a boundary through fine-leg. With Lanning bringing up the fielders in the final over before the session break, Verma lofted Molineux straight over the head to get to her third fifty in four innings.

Post Tea, India came out to bat again and Raut resumed the innings with three boundaries. But she lost her partner in Verma when Wareham accounted for her when she was on 52. The tourists decided to declare the innings at 135 for three leaving Australia 272 to win from 32 overs.

Earlier, still trailing India by 234 runs, Perry and Ashleigh Gardner started the day positively for Australia with both scoring a boundary each off Pooja Vastrakar. Perry added one more four against Deepti Sharma before settling down to play through the innings.

At the other end, Gardner had a reprieve when Sharma dropped her at backward- point off Gayakwad and in the same over the left-arm spinner struck Perry’s pads but it was adjudged not out. Post those anxious moments, Perry cut Gayakwad through point before Gardner lofted the bowler over mid-on for a four.

The pair looked comfortable against the spinners with Gardner being the aggressor of the two. Mithali Raj brought Singh into the attack and Perry smashed her for two boundaries to reach to her third Test fifty – fourth consecutive fifty plus score in the format. Gardner joined her with fours against Gayakwad in consecutive overs and it seemed like the duo would take them past the follow-on mark.

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In an attempt to take on the off-spin of Sharma in the 79th over, Garnder hit one straight to Raj at mid-off for 51 with the score reading 208 for five. India took the new ball as soon as it was available and India’s bowlers – Goswami and Singh – bowled fuller lines compared to their Australian counterparts and got the bowl to move. But the later came wider off the crease at times and once cut the popping crease to bowl a no-ball.

However, Singh got closer to the wicket in the next over and bowled a few away going deliveries against Annabel Sutherland. The right-armer was finally rewarded with the maiden wicket in Tests when she had Sutherland nick an outswinger behind to Taniya Bhatia. Singh didn’t have to wait much to add one more to her tally as she trapped Sophie Molineux in front of the wicket for just two.

Vastrakar replaced Goswami at the other end and made an immediate impact with the wicket of Georgia Wareham. At that stage, Australia still needed five runs to avoid the follow-on. Darcie Brown’s first runs in Test cricket helped the hosts avert that possibility when she hit Singh for a four.

Once Brown became the ninth wicket to fall in the 97th over with the dinner break looming, Lanning decided to declare the innings for 241 for nine with Australia still 136-runs behind.

For India, Vastrakar was the most successful bowler with figures of three for 49, while Goswami and Singh picked up two wickets each.

Brief Scores: Australia 241/9 dec in 96.4 overs (Ellyse Perry 68*, Ashleigh Gardner 51; Pooja Vastrakar 3/49, Jhulan Goswami 2/33) & 36/2 in 15 overs (Jhulan Goswami 1/8) drawn vs India 377/8 in 145 overs & 135/3 dec in 37 overs (Shafali Verma 52, Punam Raut 41*) POTM: Smriti Mandhana