India lost their second successive ODI game against Australia on February 5 and Smriti Mandhana’s valiant century went in vain. India batted first and riding on fine knocks by Mandhana and skipper Mithali Raj, posted 252/8 in 50 overs. In their 253-run victory chase, the Aussie women dominated Indian bowlers and won the match by 6 wickets with 20 balls remaining. Australia is hosting India as part of women’s ICC Championship matches, which also serve as qualification games for next year’s World Cup. The ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup is scheduled to be played in 2017. For the first time in the World Cup’s 24-year old history, England will be the host and the iconic Lord’s Cricket Ground is already confirmed as venue for the final. For qualifying in women’s ODI World Cup, ICC has initiated a 7-round Women‘s Championship in August 2014 for the top 8 ICC ranked teams and the third series of the fourth round between India and Australia is in progress in Australia. The last series of the fourth round will commence next week, when England women take on South Africa in the first ODI at Benoni on February 7, 2016. In the fifth round, there will be four more series in February. India will host Sri Lanka, Australia goes to New Zealand, West Indies play South Africa in South Africa and Pakistani women travel to England. After all seven rounds are concluded in November 2016, the top 4 teams will automatically qualify for the 2017 ICC women’s World Cup, while the remaining 4 teams will have to play with 6 regional qualifiers for the remaining four spots in Women’s World Cup.
After Australia crushed India by 101 runs in the first ODI of the current series at Canberra, the teams met for the second game at Hobart on Friday. India won the toss and batted first. Although, they lost opener Thirush Kamini off the first ball of the match, the pair of Smiriti Mandhana and captain Mithali Raj batted confidently and produced a useful 149-run stand for the second wicket. Though Raj departed at 150 in the 31st over, Smiriti and Harmanpreet Kaur added 34 for the third wicket, before Smiriti fell for a nicely compiled 102 off 109 balls with 11 hits to the fence. Thereafter, India lost steam and wickets began to fell at regular intervals. Harmanpreet left at 193, Veda Krishnamurthy at 197 and Jhulan Goswami at 212. Loss of six wickets left India in a bad situation and only Shikha Pandey stood there courageously. She went on to collect an unbeaten 33 off 30 ball with 3 fours and a six, while other Indian batsmen were found wanting. At the end of 50 overs, India could only muster 252/8.
253 in 50 overs was not a great challenge for the Aussie women, who have already won 10 out of 11 games since the ICC women’s championship began in August 2014. Skipper Meg Lanning and Nicole Bolton began with a sound 138 run first wicket stand, before Lanning fell as the first wicket for a 66-ball 61 that contained 8 fours. Though Bolton also fell at 149, Australia still had the dependable Ellyse Perry in the middle. Perry finally departed at 193 but by then she had added 31 off 35 balls. Australia lost another wicket at 193 when Alex Blackwell was trapped leg before by Rajeshwari Gayakwad. Those were the only 4 wickets that Australia lost. From there, Jess Jonassen and Alyssa Healy each added 29 runs apiece and remained unbeaten as Australia reached the victory mark in the 47th over.
None of the Indian bowlers could make any impression on the Australians, who are on the top of the points’ table with 20 points. With not many games in the ICC championship remaining until the 7th round, 2005 World Cup runner-up India are sure to be relegated to fighting for World Cup qualification with regional teams after the ICC championship ends. As for Australia, they look in complete command. Australia have already won the women’s World Cup 6 times and they are the reigning champions. The next match of the current Australia-India series will be played on February 7 at Hobart.