India 1-132 before rain stopped play
Pack the team with pace bowling, win the toss and send the tourists into bat on a lively Gold Coast pitch. As far as plans went, Australia’s blueprint for the Test match against India was simple and transparent.
Unfortunately for Meg Lanning’s team, even the most straightforward of plans require some measure of precision in the execution. Through some wayward bowling and faulty catching, India were able to get away to an exceptional start, led by Smriti Mandhana (80 not out).
Interrupted by a Queensland downpour that wiped out half the opening day/night, the Indians were 1-132 at stumps. They lost only the wicket of Shafali Verma, who miscued Sophie Molineux to mid off after earlier being dropped three times on the way to an opening stand of 93.
Mandhana’s elegance and strength square of the wicket were illustrated by how, at one point, Lanning posted no fewer than four fielders in the region, but still she was able to find the gaps. Save for one early edge past slip and a play and miss at Tahlia McGrath just before the rain, she was in full control – raising her 50 from just 51 balls before relaxing her tempo slightly.
The surface, which looked very much a faithful recreation of pitches produced on the same type of soil at the Gabba in Brisbane, proved to be something of a slow seamer on the opening day. It will likely quicken up and be harder to bat on in coming days.
Women’s Test matches are so few and far between that they invariably come with a cluster of debutants. Australia handed baggy green caps to Georgia Wareham (presented by Shelley Nitschke), fit again after a quad complaint, and three seam bowlers in Annabel Sutherland (Ellyse Perry), Darcie Brown (Lanning) and Stella Campbell (Mitchell Starc). India, likewise, afforded the honour to Meghna Singh and Yastika Bhatia.
“I was standing next to Maitlan Brown, who was getting a bit teary and emotional listening to Wolfie [Wareham] get her speech, and that made me a little bit emotional as well,” Beth Mooney told the host broadcaster. “[The speeches] hit home as well, obviously people with COVID can’t have their families here.”