Australia have survived an almighty Indian fightback to win the second Twenty20 international on the Gold Coast by four wickets.
The victory secures Australia an unassailable 9-5 lead in the multi-format series ahead of Sunday’s third T20I at Metricon Stadium.
The tense finish on Saturday appeared unlikely after Australia had reduced India to 9-81 during their innings before late hitting by Pooja Vastrakar lifted the tourists to 9-118.
Australia slumped to 4-46 midway through their run chase but Tahlia McGrath, who made her T20I debut in Thursday’s washed-out game, scored an unbeaten 42 to see the home side reach the target of 119 with five balls to spare.
“It was a long time coming that T20 debut so I was pretty happy to get the hat and then the rain sort of dampened the mood, so pretty special win tonight and extra special to wrap up the series,” McGrath said.
“The wicket was playing a little bit trickier than we initially thought and to be honest, the innings, I was in two minds whether I just try and keep the run rate as close as possible or whether I try and get a big over.
“So I was in two minds for a lot of the innings but luckily it came off in the end.”
After captain Meg Lanning won her sixth straight toss of the series, the Indians were in early trouble when openers Smriti Mandhana (1) and Shafali Verma (3) both fell to the pace of Tayla Vlaeminck (2-18).
India captain Harmanpreet Kaur smacked milestone woman Ellyse Perry – in her record 252nd international appearance for Australia – for three boundaries in one over.
When Kaur was stumped off the bowling of Georgia Wareham (1-14) for 28 her team was 4-50.
Worse was to come when Vastrakar and Deepti Sharma wound up at the same end as Alyssa Healy removed the bails at the other, the third umpire having to be called upon to determine which of the two Indians had reached the crease first.
Luckily for India it was Deepti who had to make way, allowing Vastrakar to haul her team to a defendable score with an unbeaten 37 which included three boundaries and two sixes.
Australia’s confidence in chasing down the runs would’ve been rocked when Healy (4) received a brute of a delivery from Shikha Pandey (1-27) second-ball which cut back viciously off the seam and bowled the opener.
Spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad came on to remove Lanning (15), and when Ash Gardner (1) and Perry (2) fell cheaply the hosts were reeling.
Beth Mooney’s dismissal for 34, stumped off Rajeshwari, threw even more consternation among the Australian camp.
McGrath however stepped up and fittingly scored the winning run off the first ball of the final over to ensure Australia took out the win and the series.