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Fifties from Litchfield, Perry and McGrath guide Australia home in the opening ODI

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Phoebe Litchfield of Australia celebrates after scoring fifty with Ellyse Perry during the 1st ODI match between India (Women) and Australia (Women) at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on December 28, 2023.

Phoebe Litchfield of Australia celebrates after scoring fifty with Ellyse Perry during the 1st ODI match between India (Women) and Australia (Women) at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on December 28, 2023.
| Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

On November 7 at the Wankhede Stadium, Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell redefined the meaning of resilience when he fought cramps, the sweltering Mumbai humidity and the demons in his head to score an unbeaten 128-ball 201 against Afghanistan in the World Cup.

A month and a half later and at the same venue, India’s Jemimah Rodrigues and Australia’s Ellyse Perry did something similar, fighting the challenge of cramps and physical discomfort to help their team’s cause.

This time too, the Aussie came out on top, with the women in green and gold beating India by six wickets in the first ODI to take the lead in the three-match series here on Thursday.

Shoddy fielding put the Indians on the backfoot early on, and against a batting line-up as deep as Australia’s, India was potentially 20-odd runs short.

Chasing 283 to win, skipper Alyssa Healy spent all of two minutes on the field, falling to Renuka Singh after Sneh Rana took a brilliant catch at short third. Perry and Phoebe Litchfield then frustrated the Indians with a 148-run stand for the second wicket. Perry struggled with cramps.

Deepti Sharma gave India the breakthrough, removing Perry for 75 as she tried to send the ball flying over long on. Litchfield fell soon after attempting to sweep off Sneh, with the ball knocking off her leg stump.

Commanding position

Beth Mooney and Tahlia McGrath’s 88-run stand put Australia in a commanding position. McGrath scored her third fifty of the tour against India to seal the win with more than three overs to spare.

With Smriti Mandhana missing the fixture due to ill health, Yastika Bhatia opened alongside Shafali Verma after India opted to bat.

Darcie Brown removed Shafali early with the ball tearing through her defence and onto the stumps. After a positive start, Richa Ghosh fell for 21.

Skipper Harmanpreet looked in good touch, especially when she reverse swept Ashleigh Gardner to perfection.however, she and Yastika made the long walk to the pavilion soon after.

Jemimah struggled with cramps and threw up a few times while batting, but her defiant half century anchored India to a respectable total.

She fell for 82, her second highest score in the format. Pooja then made a case for why she should be promoted up the order. India added 32 runs in the deliveries that remained to finish with 282 for eight on the board.

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