Mandhana scores maiden ton before Australia make inroads on another rainy day

Smriti Mandhana © Getty Images

A maiden Test century for Smriti Mandhana, Ellyse Perry’s resilience with the ball, along with the mix of shoddy and sublime fielding by the hosts headlined the second day of the pink-ball Test. Cricketing action could only last for only 57 overs as persistent rain stopped play at the Carrara Oval on Friday (October 1) with India’s score reading 276 for five.

With the play starting 30 mins earlier to accommodate the lost overs, Mandhana and Punam Raut began day two on 132 for one, and Mandhana was given an early reprieve on the second ball she faced. The left-hander sliced a full toss by Perry straight to the point fielder Beth Mooney, who took a well-judged catch. On-field umpires went upstairs to check if the catch was clean, but it was confirmed that Perry had over-stepped at the bowling crease. The momentary loss of concentration did not cost India much at all. Mandhana calmed her nerves and entered the 90s with an elegant straight-drive off Annabel Sutherland.

Mandhana reached the hundred – first by a visiting Indian player against Australia in Tests – with a perfectly timed pull shot, as she continued to punish the bowlers for their short ball tactics. Her scoring rate did not stop after reaching the ton as she hit debutante Stella Campbell for back-to-back boundaries, which forced Meg Lanning to introduce another debutante – Georgia Wareham – for the first time in the match.

At the other end, Raut was solid in her defence even as Australia were desperately searching for the second wicket. Her patience paid off as the pair brought up their century stand in the 68th over. However, in the next over, Ashleigh Gardner dismissed Mandhana when she came down the wicket only to misjudge the ball and hit it to Tahlia McGrath, who was placed at short mid-off to stop the southpaw from going for her drives.

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For Australia, Gardner went from holding the one end to being the mainstay of the bowling unit as Lanning rotated young quick Darcie Brown and Sutherland around her. Sutherland was persistent with her line and length throughout her first spell of the day as she draw false shots from Indian captain Mithali Raj twice in an over. One of those flew over gully’s head, where Wareham missed the catching opportunity, and the second time it fell short of gully.

Sophie Molineux was introduced in the attack with a slip and short-leg in and a catching mid-off. In just her second over of the spell, a beautiful delivery outside off-stump tempted Raut into a defensive shot away from her body. Alyssa Healy took a sharp catch behind the stumps, but before the umpire could turn down the appeal, the right-hander started walking off the field to give Australia their second wicket of the day. Debutante Yastika Bhatia then survived a few overs against the new ball as teams took dinner with India reaching 231 for three.

After the dinner break, Perry started her new spell under lights with Brown from the other end. The talismanic allrounder created a chance against Raj with a back of the length outside off delivery, which created a thick edge, but Mooney dropped a relatively easy chance at the gully. Yastika looked comfortable against fellow first-timer Brown as she hit her for a lovely drive and a cracking pull shot in an over.

Perry’s drought of wickets across the formats was finally ended when Mooney redeemed herself with a brilliant diving catch at gully to dismiss Yastika. The southpaw offered a leading edge while trying to flick a full-length delivery. Raj’s dropped catch did not haunt Australia for long as Sutherland’s direct hit from mid-wicket ended the 86-ball knock for 30.

Wicket-keeper Taniya Bhatia joined the allrounder Deepti Sharma at seven before lightning and impending rain forced the umpires to take the players off for the second day in a row. An early Tea was taken, but rain, followed by a hailstorm meant the day’s play had to be suspended early yet again.

Brief Scores: India 276/5 in 101.5 overs (Smriti Mandhana 127, Punam Raut 36; Sophie Molineux 2/28) vs Australia