Smriti Mandhana struck a sublime half-century as India finally produced a good batting display to record a seven-wicket win over Australia at Melbourne on Saturday, keeping their hopes alive for a place in the final of the women's T20 tri-series. (More Cricket News)
Australia posted 173 for 5 courtesy a 57-ball 93 from Ashleigh Gardner and Meg Lanning's 22-ball 37 after India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur elected to field at the Junction Oval.
India then overhauled the target in 19.4 overs, largely due to opener Shafali Verma's 49 off 28 balls and Mandhana's 55 off 48 balls.
With the win, India moved to the second position in the points table, behind England. The winner of the final league match between Australia and England on Sunday will decide the finalists for the title clash on February 12.
After two failures, sixteen-year-old Shafali gave India a flying start with her innings containing eight fours and a six. Her senior opening partner Mandhana, on the other hand, anchored the case with a solid knock comprising seven fours.
After Shafali was caught by Nicola Carey off Ellyse Perry's ball, Jemimah Rodrigues came into the crease and made a quickfire 19-ball 30, studded with five hits to the fence.
Her innings was cut short when she holed out to Alyssa Healy off Megan Schutt's delivery in the 13th over.
Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (20 not out off 20 balls) then joined Mandhana and added 42 to take India close to the target. Mandhana was trapped LBW by Carey in the 19th over. Harmanpreet and Deepti Sharma (11 not out off 4 balls) then took the team to a resounding win.
Earlier, Gardner sent the ball across the fence 11 times and blasted three sixes in her 57-ball innings to emerge as the top-scorer for Australia.
For India, Deepti Sharma (2/27) was the pick of the bowlers, snapping two wickets, while Rajeshwari Gayakwad (1/34), Radha Yadav (1/34) and Harleen Deol (1/21) took one wicket each.
Australia's Ellyse Perry (1/33), Megan Schutt (1/26) and Nicola Carey (1/27) accounted for a wicket each.
Australia women: 173 for five in 20 overs (Ashleigh Gardner 93; Deepti Sharma 2/27).
India women: 177 for three in 19.4 overs (Smriti Mandhana 55, Shafali Verma 49; Megan Schutt 1/26).