Though they gave up 31 wides, Australia’s higher quality fielding and catching had appeared likely to be the difference. Sutherland and the substitute Molly Strano each held on to half-chances after India had put down four catches that really should have been taken.
Instead, the wheel turned. Nicola Carey put down Sneh Rana at square leg when looking directly into the sun, then next over had Rana’s return catch cancelled out by a no ball. Rana then slammed 14 runs from the 47th over delivered by McGrath to give India the breathing room they required.
Choosing to bat first after needing a marginal no-ball call to complete a rather miraculous escape act in game two on Friday night, the hosts were motoring at 0-41 after eight overs.
However, Goswami had been putting together an exemplary few overs, and Haynes’ mounting frustration culminated in a failed attempt to hit India’s seasoned seamer off her length and a simple catch to mid-off. When Lanning edged a beautifully pitched away nibbler four balls later, India were in the game.
Alyssa Healy (34) was unfortunately run out by an Ellyse Perry drive deflecting onto the non-striker’s stumps. Perry (26) then cut straight to backward point to also squander a platform, leaving Australia an unsteady 4-87.
Mooney, Gardner and McGrath each summoned innings of escalating speed, helped by no fewer than four catches going down at moments when India might have reclaimed control. The most glaring of these was Richa Ghosh’s inability to hold a swirling skier from Gardner despite having the gloves on.
In all it added up to 5-177 from the final 25 overs of the innings, making for what looked an eminently defendable total. Another untidy start with the new ball by Australia gave India a nifty start. It took a blinding catch by Sutherland, sprinting with the flight of the ball from mid-off, to see off Smriti Mandhana after a stand worth 59 at nearly a run a ball.
Shafali Verma, batting well within herself, put on a century stand with Yastika Bhatia to pull the Indians to only 105 runs short of victory and well ahead of the required rate as the Australians, too, shelled a couple of (more difficult) chances.
Molineux found a way through Shafali (56) though, and after Richa ended a wretched day with a duck, Strano’s superlative diving snare running in from fine leg accounted for Bhatia (64) and tilted the game towards Australia.
The outstanding spells of Campbell and Sutherland, who bowled Pooja Vastrakar and the captain Mithali Raj in successive overs of suffocating seam-up, seemed to ensure Lanning’s troops had enough scoreboard pressure to keep the streak going.
Rana had other ideas. Twice given a reprieve by Carey, she cuffed the vital boundaries to mean Goswami could celebrate, just two nights after having victory spirited away. Never before had India chased so many runs to win an ODI.
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