Bilateral series

India (W) lead by 157 runs at Day 2 against Australia (W)

The enthralling second day of the one-off Test in Mumbai between India and Australia not only showcased the resilience of the Indian team but also brought to the forefront the prowess of their batters against a varied Australian bowling attack. Overcoming the challenge of eight different bowlers, India’s determined batting lineup batted for a whopping 100 overs, propelling them to a formidable total of 376 for 7, establishing a commanding lead of 157 runs.

The day began with Smriti Mandhana, unbeaten on 43 from the previous day, taking her time to find boundaries and displaying the intent to convert her start into a substantial score. Partnering with the vigilant Sneh Rana, the duo frustrated the Australian bowlers, stitching together a 50-run partnership for the second wicket. However, the breakthrough for Australia came when Ashleigh Gardner, with her accurate offspin, cleaned up Rana, setting the stage for a gripping day of cricket.

The Indian middle order faced a mini-collapse in the second session, but the recovery was swift and impactful. Richa Ghosh, known for her exploits in T20 cricket, played a composed innings, scoring a well-made 52 off 104 deliveries. Her partnership with Jemimah Rodrigues, who contributed 73 runs in her second Test, defied the Australian attack, playing 187 deliveries and putting on a crucial 113-run stand.

Despite the occasional setback, Gardner’s relentless accuracy and spin proved to be a constant threat for Australia. The Australian captain, Alyssa Healy, tried various bowling options, exploring left-arm spin, offspin, legspin, left-arm pace, and right-arm pace. However, it was Gardner who stood out, extracting 36 of the 100 overs bowled by Australia on the day and consistently troubling the Indian batters.

The session after tea witnessed a brief resurgence from Australia as Ghosh fell to Kim Garth, and Gardner added two more wickets to her name, dismissing Harmanpreet Kaur and Yastika Bhatia. India lost four wickets for just 14 runs in 8.5 overs, slipping to 276 for 7 with a lead of 57.

However, the resilience of the Indian team shone through in the final session, courtesy of the exceptional partnership between allrounders Pooja Vastrakar and Deepti Sharma. Displaying remarkable game awareness, the duo batted cautiously against the old ball and found boundaries with precision when the new ball was introduced. Deepti’s unbeaten 70 and Vastrakar’s patient innings culminated in a remarkable 100-run partnership in 232 balls, consolidating India’s dominance in the Test.

Deepti’s innings also marked her as the second woman to achieve fifty-plus scores in each of her first four Tests, a feat previously accomplished by Australia’s Denise Emerson. As the day concluded, India found themselves in a commanding position, having not only weathered the storm of varied bowling but also extended their lead significantly, setting the stage for an intriguing continuation of the Test match.

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