The start of the Women's T20 World Cup had a marquee clash on offer with hosts Australia facing India in the tournament opener at Showground Stadium in Sydney. With a much-hyped build-up to the game, Australia were always the favorites after having beaten India in the recent tri-series final ahead of the T20 World Cup.
Despite their favorites' tag, Australia met a major upset as India took them down by 17 runs to begin their T20 World Cup campaign on a victorious note. Poonam Yadav was the star with the ball as she dented Aussies with four wickets in making it a herculean task for them.
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With a jam-packed stadium, Australian skipper Meg Lanning won the toss and decided to bowl first on a slow track. The decision of bowling first seemed to have backfired for the Aussies after Indian openers got off to a rollicking start. Shafali Verma blazed her way to a 15-ball 29 before Indians were pegged down with three quick wickets for just six runs.
Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur along with both the openers was sent back to the pavilion in quick succession. However, a 50-run stand between Jemimah Rodrigues and Deepti Sharam steadied India's ship to cross the 100-run mark. The Aussie bowlers never gave anything easy as boundaries were hard to come by.
Deepti's 49 empowered Indians to post 132 runs in their 20 overs. The total was well below par as the hosts restricted the ‘Women in Blue' to a minimal total. Jess Jonassen was the star with the ball in hand as she picked two wickets in her four overs.
Chasing a below-par 133 to begin their T20 campaign with a win, Australia made a cautious start with Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy leading the way for their team. Mooney was caught in the sixth while Healy continued to exhibit dominance over the Indian bowlers. However, the tide soon turned in India's favor in the ninth over when skipper Meg Lanning was dismissed by Rajeshwari Gayakwad.
It was a case of Indian spinners spinning a web thereafter as Poonam Yadav made the batters dance on her tunes. She picked up four wickets in her four overs. Yadav conceded merely 19 runs to allow India with an opportunity to squeeze in a win in the tournament opener.
In the end, the lack of partnership hurt Australia as India cruised their way to a 17-run win at Sydney's Showground Stadium. For her spell of 4/19, Poonam Yadav was awarded the Player of the Match. In their next match, Australia will lock horns against Sri Lanka at Perth on February 24 while India faces Bangladesh in a night fixture on the same day.