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Women’s tri-nation series: Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana anchor India’s masterful chase against Australia

16-year-old Shafali Verma, in particular, was mighty impressive from the beginning, she put the pressure on the experienced Australian bowling line-up.

SNS | New Delhi |

Openers Shefali Verma and Smriti Mandhana anchored a masterful chase for the Indian women as they defeated Australia at the Junction Oval in Melbourne on Saturday. The win also keeps them in contention for a place in the final of the ongoing Women’s Tri-Nation Series.

Chasing the huge total of 174, the opener gave India a blitzkrieg start with a fiery partnership of 85 runs in 8 over. The 16-year-old Verma, in particular, was at her mighty best as she made 49 off 28 deliveries before becoming the victim of Nicola Carey.

Mandhana, though, continued to hold the fort and was joined by Jemimah Rodrigues who took to the attack right from the word go for her fiery 19-ball knock of 30 runs. After playing the second fiddle to both Verma and Rodrigues, Mandhana flexed her arms following India’s second wicket.

The left-hander graced her innings with seven boundaries and successfully guided India to the safe zone with her innings of 55 runs off 48 deliveries. She maintained the pressure on the Australian attack and never let them get on top of the visiting women.

Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur played a mindful run-a-ball innings of 20 runs to see her team through. Coming into bat at five, Deepti Sharma smashed 11 off 4 balls.

Earlier, Ashleigh Gardner produced her swash-buckling best in a career-high 93 from just 57 deliveries as Australia posted a formidable 173/5 in their stipulated 20 overs. Skipper Meg Lanning also contributed with a quick-fire 22-ball 37.

Australia could have gone beyond 200. However, the death overs delivered by Shikha Pandey and Rajeshwari Gayakwad made sure Australians were restricted beneath 180.

Pandey allowed just two runs from the 19th over, before Gayakwad, after being hit for six by Perry, leaked just three from her last five balls.

Australia will now face England in a do-or-die match against England on Sunday.

(With IANS inputs)