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Many gains for India in twin women's Tests wins -- hope they get more soon

There were four situations in which it looked like the Indians would lose the script and hand over the advantage to the Australians, But on all these occasions.

Many gains for India in twin womens Tests wins -- hope they get more soon

Team Indian Players (IANS)

MUMBAI: A resilient Indian women's cricket team fought back both with the bat and ball to snatch the initiative back every time the World's top team tried to wrest back control as they recorded a historic first-ever Test win against the mighty Australia on Sunday.

There were four situations in which it looked like the Indians would lose the script and hand over the advantage to the Australians, But on all these occasions, the Indians fought back, snatched back the advantage and eventually scripted an eight-wicket victory.

The Indians took the Test by the scruff on the first day itself as they bundled out Australia for 219. Their first Test at home against Australia in four decades could have gone the other way if the Indians had made a poor start in their first innings. But thanks to some aggressive batting by openers Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana, the hosts raced to 98/1 at stumps on the first day, thus pushing the Aussies on the back foot.

They pressed home the advantage thanks to half-centuries by Mandhana (73), Jemimah Rodrigues and Richa Ghosh (52). But the Aussies fought back, claiming a few quick wickets to reduce them to 274 for seven.

But India turned the match in their favour once again thanks to a 122-run partnership between Deepti Sharma (78) and Pooja Vastrakar, which eventually helped them reach 406 on the third morning and gain a 187-run advantage.

However, Australian batters played with patience, batting cautiously, building up a good score in their second innings. With her three spinners -- Sneh Rana, Deepti Sharma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad unable to dislodge Tahlia McGrath and Alyssa Healy, skipper Harmanpreet pressed herself into the attack, bowling in a Test match at home for the first time since 2014, the claimed two quick wickets, sending back the extremely dangerous McGrath and Healy to wrest back the initiative, leaving Australia ahead by just 46 runs and five wickets in hand.

India then captured the remaining five wickets of Australia in 75 minutes for addition of only 28 runs, leaving the Indians to score 75 runs to win the match, which they did by losing only two wickets, claiming their second win in Tests in two weeks, after beating England Women by 347 runs at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.

India had many stars in this match with Smriti Mandhana scoring 112 runs (74 & 38 not out) in two innings, Jemimah Rodrigues, who scored 73 and 12 not out, Deepti Sharma, who rescued India with a brilliant 78 and had superb bowling figures of 0-35 in 22 overs, and Pooja Vastraka, who claimed 4/53 and scored 47 in that vital 122-run stand that rescued India from a difficult situation, and Sneh Rana, who claimed 3-56 and 4-63 after sharing a vital 50-run partnership with Mandhana coming in as nightwatchman.

Sneh was the overall star and the Player of the Match as she ended with figures of 7-119, the best Indian bowler on display as she troubled the Australian batters no end, bowling fuller lengths in the channel and keeping the batters true and interested all along.

Skipper Harmanpreet was very good with the way she handled her bowlers superbly as she rotated them well, and used Pooja Vastrakar's pace to rattle the Australians when the pitch offered bounce and seam movement on the first day.

The only sore point, for the nit-picking types, was the close-catching as they dropped quite a few catches in the match against Australia. Deepti Sharma put down three catches in the slips while Sneh Rana too put down a few chances.

The major gain for India, in terms of Tests, in the two Tests were the exemplary performance by debutantes. Jemimah Rodrigues took to Test cricket like duck to water, scoring half-centuries in back-to-back matches after doing well in white-ball cricket and Richa Ghosh showed she is ready for more responsibility in both formats after scoring a half-century at Wankhede after being promoted in the order. Though Shubha Satheesh was unfortunate to miss out on the Test against Australia after scoring a half-century on debut against England at the DY Patil Stadium.

Another big gain for India in these two back-to-back Test matches was coach Amol Muzumdar, who seems to have made an early impression on his wards and brought in a lot of chances in their approach to the game. Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, Sneh Rana and pacer Pooja Vastrakar acknowledged his contribution with Harman going on to say that he suggested sending Shubha Satheesh at No.3 in the game against England and to declare on overnight score on the third morning so that the bowlers can exploit the juice in the pitch in the first 40 minutes.

The focus now will turn to white-ball cricket in which Australia are the reigning champion in both 50-overs and T20 formats and the team to beat.

On the Test front, the players will be hoping that the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) takes note of their twin successes and arranges more bilateral Test series, with more games and not one-off affairs. India played two Tests after a gap of two years while India hosted a Test match after a gap of nine years and hosted Australia for the first time in four decades.

Harmanpreet Kaur & Co. will be hoping that they won't have to wait for many years for their next Test match.

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