Rain washes out first T20I after Jemimah Rodrigues’ 49* on return

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Earlier, Ashleigh Gardner dismissed both Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma after a frenetic start

No Result India Women 131 for 4 (Rodrigues 49*, Gardner 2-28) vs Australia Women

India and Australia split points after the first T20I was abandoned with just 15.2 overs into the first innings. Australia lead the multi-format series 7-5, with two games and four points still up for grabs.

In whatever little play was possible, India made a strong statement with the bat, well placed at 131 for 4, with momentum firmly with them, when a drizzle that turned into a downpour eventually forced the umpires to call off the game.

Jemimah Rodrigues made the most of her opportunity, her first of the tour, by tiding over what could have been a potentially tricky phase for India after they lost their openers inside four overs. Rodrigues did so by playing authentic cricket shots and running hard between the wickets. Once set, she also brought out the deft touches. She was unbeaten on 49 off 36 balls.

At the other end, Richa Ghosh, who India are trying to groom as a wicketkeeper-batter in white-ball cricket, rode on oodles of luck and some thick edges to make an unbeaten 13-ball 17 before the rain came sweeping in. Rodrigues and Ghosh had added 25 in just 3.1 overs after India lost debutant Yastika Bhatia for 15, when she miscued a slog off legspinner Georgia Wareham to long-on.

The story of the innings, however, was in how frenetic the powerplay turned out to be. Shafali Verma scythed her first ball for six, Smriti Mandhana went after Sophie Molineux’s left-arm spin to wallop two fours and a six in her first over, and Ashleigh Gardner showed her guile and smarts to perfection in removing both batters in the space of four deliveries with her loopy offspin.

Mandhana was drawn out by a tossed-up delivery bowled a touch wide. She swung through only to toe-end it to mid-off. Verma, having muscled a slog sweep over deep midwicket, fell trying to replicate the same stroke, handing a catch to the boundary rider.

It was a bizarre innings for Verma. Jumping all around the crease, looking to scoop, trying to make room to swing, or wildly heaving into the leg side, she played out a succession of dots in the third over. In trying to premeditate, she kept losing her shape. The last ball of the over, however, was muscled over wide long-on to get her going once again.

While the Verma-Mandhana stand didn’t last long, Rodrigues set herself in almost immediately by cutting the ball splendidly to pick up her first boundary off her fifth ball. Harmanpreet Kaur, coming in for her first game of the series after recovering from a thumb injury, also batted with aggression from the get-go, picking up three boundaries off her first four deliveries. She eventually fell to Molineux after playing all around a full ball to be trapped lbw.

Every time India appeared to lose a wicket to elicit prospects of a collapse, they appeared to go that much harder at the bowling. The only brief slowdown was when Bhatia struggled to force the pace against the slow bowlers, but once she fell, India picked up the pace again. Could they have hit 180 or 190? We wouldn’t know. What we did see, though, was a refreshing batting approach that could serve them well in the format.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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