Titas Sadhu inspires India to a huge win over Australia in 1st T20I | Cricket

Titas Sadhu was playing her second international game for the senior team when India took on Sri Lanka in the Asian Games final last September. Just 18 years old at the time, the right-arm pacer returned with sensational figures of 3/6 to help her team claim the gold medal. That performance had come eight months after she won the player of the match award in final of the ICC Women’s U-19 T20 World Cup.

Titas Sadhu celebrates the wicket of Australia’s batter Ashleigh Gardner during the T20I cricket match between India and Australia(PTI)

At the DY Patil Stadium here on Friday, competing in just her fifth T20I, Titas got on a roll once again to help India beat Australia by nine wickets in the opening game of the three-match series. The Bengal pacer picked 4/17 as the visitors were bowled out for 141 after being asked to bat first. From there, it was the Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana show that powered the hosts to 145/1 in 17.4 overs.

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Through the course of the preceding one-off Test and ODI series between the two teams, a familiar sight during India’s training sessions was bowling coach Troy Cooley chatting animatedly with Titas. The 58-year-old, who was the bowling coach of the England and Australia men’s teams earlier, would stand at the top of the run-up and share insights after every delivery. Endowed with those invaluable lessons, the youngster showed on Friday that she’s capable of taking down the best.

With Beth Mooney striking the ball cleanly, Australia were off to a promising start and got to 26/0 in three overs. But that’s when Titas joined the attack and triggered a collapse that saw the visitors lose four wickets for just five runs. Mooney was deceived by a leg cutter, while Tahlia McGrath and Ash Gardner edged deliveries that nipped away. It was a phenomenal spell with the new ball. She showed great skill and discipline to land a blow the Aussies never recovered from.

From 33/4 at the end of the powerplay, Australia fought back thanks to the in-form Phoebe Litchfield and the ever-dependable Ellyse Perry, who added 79 runs for the fifth wicket. Litchfield, who had struck a century in the third ODI three days earlier, was the aggressor and hit some sublime strokes in her 32-ball 49. Her dismissal in the 15th over, though, marked the start of another collapse for Australia as they lost their last six wickets for 29 runs.

Off-spinners Deepti Sharma and Shreyanka Patil were the other key contributors with the ball for India. In terms of fielding, however, there wasn’t much improvement from the ODI series. Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur did well to hold on to four regulation catches, but there were three dropped catches by others and a number of misfields to go with that.

In the chase, India’s openers didn’t give Australia a whiff and remained aggressive from the start. Shafali, who was dropped for the last two ODIs, showed how devastating she can be after a nervy start. The left-right pair added a 137-run partnership for the first wicket and nearly handed Australia just their second 10-wicket defeat in T20Is.

Although she wasn’t able to convert her starts in the ODI series, Smriti had shown glimpses of her best and one could sense a big innings from her around the corner. This time, she remained in complete control and hit seven fours and a six in her 52-ball 54. The bigger positive for India, though, was Shafali’s return to form. The 19-year-old showed composure in her shot selection and kept India ahead of the asking rate throughout with her powerful strokeplay. She scored 66 runs off 44 balls, with six fours and three sixes, and ensured she remained unbeaten to close out the game with Jemimah Rodrigues.

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