GOLD COAST, October 10: The Indian women’s team committed batting harakiri despite a fine half century from opener Smriti Mandhana to lose the third and final T20 International to Australia by 14 runs and the series 0-2 on Sunday.
Chasing a challenging 150-run target, Mandhana smashed 52 off 49 balls and shared 57 runs with Jemimah Rodrigues (23 off 26) for the second wicket to set the platform for India before the visitors lost four wickets in a span of 10 runs to lose the plot.
For Australia, right-arm pacer Nicola Carey (2/42) was the pick of the bowlers, while Ashleigh Gardner (1/22), Annabel Sutherland (1/13) and Georgia Wareham (1/15) scalped a wicket each.
India thus ended their Australia tour heartbroken, having already lost the three-match ODI series 1-2 before drawing the rain-marred lone historic day/night Test.
India’s run chase started on a disappointing fashion as they lost hard-hitting opener Shafali Verma (1) early, caught by Vlaeminck at short fine-leg off Gardner in the second over.
But Mandhana looked in ominous touch as she displayed her wide range of shots — pulling, clipping off the pads and hitting through covers region — to pick up three boundaries in the fifth over.
Mandhana and Rodrigues played with caution with the former finding the boundaries in between as India reached 54 runs in the 10th over.
Rodrigues then hit Wareham straight over mid-on in the next over but she departed two balls later in search of too many boundaries, caught at long-off by Vlaeminck.
Mandhana soon reached her fifty off just 46 balls with a boundary off Carey but she perished four balls later, caught by Australia skipper Meg Lanning as India reached 93 for three by the end of the 15th over.
Needing 57 off 30 balls, India’s chase derailed thereafter as they lost two more quick wickets, including that off skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (13).
It was yet another failure from Kaur as she drove one straight to Lanning off Sutherland while trying to clear the inner circle.
Pooja Vastrakar (5) was then cleaned up by Carey in the next over as India slumped to 99 for four in the 17th over.
From there on, it was no looking back for Australia as they restricted India to 135 for six.
Richa Ghosh remained unbeaten on 23 off 11 balls while Deepti Sharma was not out on 9.
Earlier, opener Beth Monney scored a half-century while Tahlia McGrath provided late flourish with an unbeaten 44 to help Australia put on board a decent 149 for five.
Opting to field first after winning the toss, the Indian bowlers picked up wickets at regular intervals but the hosts scored 40 runs in the last 19 balls to seize the momentum.
Left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad (2/37), Renuka Singh (1/23), Pooja Vastrakar (1/24) and off-spinner Deepti Sharma (1/24) were the wicket-takers for India as Australian batters struggled to score freely in the middle overs.
Mooney top-scored for Australia with a 43-ball 61 with 10 boundaries.
Towards the end, McGrath scored 44 not out off 31 balls and together with Gerorgia Wareham (13 not out) added 32 valuable runs for the sixth wicket to get Australia close to the 150-run mark.
McGrath hit six boundaries and one six.
India made one change, bringing in Harleen Deol in place of Yastika Bhatia. Australia too made a change with Annabel Sutherland coming in for Hannah Darlington.
India had lost the second T20I by four wickets, while the opening game was washed out. (PTI)