MUMBAI: Australian women maintained their stranglehold on India with a record-equalling six-wicket victory in the opening encounter of the T20 Tri-Series, here on Thursday. The Southern Stars thus maintained their unbeaten record on tour having outclassed the hosts 3-0 in the ODI series. While the format changed from 50 to 20 overs but the familiar middleorder collapse still continued. Opener Smriti Mandhana once again struck a stylish 67 off 41 balls, helping India post a decent total of 152 for five in 20 overs. In reply, Australia equalled their highest-ever chase in shortest format, comfortably winning in 18.1 overs despite a fine effort by veteran Jhulan Goswami (3/30), who unfortunately lacked support from the other end. The biggest problem was that save Goswami, the other two seamers Shikha Pandey and Rumeli Dhar. Indian bowlers bowled too many boundary-balls with as many 21 fours and six were taken off them.Chasing 153, Australia women were in trouble at one point of time 29 for 2 as Goswami struck in her first and the third over, cleaning up ‘keeper-opener Alyssa Healy (4) and Ashleigh Gardner (15). But that did not deter other opener Beth Mooney (45 off 32 balls) from playing her shots as she hammered both pace and spin alike. She found an able partner in Villani (39 off 33 balls) as they added 79 runs for the third wicket. The duo rotated strike, dispatching the loose balls to the fence with ease. While Mooney struck eight boundaries, Villani had four hits to the fence. Goswami in her second spell, removed the dangerous Mooney, after she was caught by Shikha Pandey but by then Australia had reached 108 in the 13th over.In the very next over, legspinner Poonam Yadav caught Villani off her own bowling, when the batswoman came down the track and unsuccessfully jabbed at a delivery that stopped on her. But then skipper Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes ensured that no further damaged was done and took the side home with 11 balls to spare. Lanning, who had not scored big in the One Days, looked in good touch and her knock was laced with four boundaries and a six. Earlier, Mandhana struck 11 boundaries and two sixes but India failed to capitalise on a strong platform provided by her and Mithali Raj (18 off 27 balls).
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