Melbourne, Feb 12 : Smriti Mandhana's superb knock of 37-ball 66 went in vain as Australia beat India by 11 runs in the final and claimed the tri-nation women's T20 series, here on Wednesday. Chasing a target of 156, India were all out for 144 after being 115 for three in the 15th over.
Seasoned left-arm spinner Jonassen was the star performer with brilliant figures of 5 for 12 in four overs, making her only the third Australian bowler to return a five-for in the women's T20 format. Chasing a challenging target, India started their innings with confidence. Teenage opener Shafali Verma fell after hitting a four and a six, but Smriti Mandhana, who was dropped on 7 by Nicola Carey off Megan Schutt in the third over, made the hosts pay with her flamboyant batting.
Mandana brought up her second successive T20I fifty and 12th overall, consistency chipping at the modest target. She was dropped again on 55 by Annabel Sutherland off her own bowling in the 13th over. Mandhana's luck, however, finally ran out in the 15th over, when Carey, who had dropped her before, made up for her mistake to hold onto a diving catch at deep midwicket.
Her dismissal in the 15th over, turned the match in Australia's favour as they put the brakes on India's scoring while at the same time taking wickets. With 39 runs to win in 30 balls with six wickets in hand, India were in the driver's seat, with experienced campaigners Harmanpreet Kaur and Deepti Sharma at the crease. However, a superb bowling performance from Jonassen turned the tide in Australia's favour in the last five overs.
In the 16th over, Jonassen bowled a flighted one to trap India skipper Harmanpreet in front for 14. Two balls later, newcomer Arundhati Reddy was dismissed for a duck as she top-edged a sweep to Alyssa Healy. In the next over, Ellyse Perry removed Shikha Pandey for four. Jonassen then complemented her double strike from the previous over, to get Radha Yadav caught at cover for two. Despite wicketkeeper-batter Taniya Bhatia's cameo (11) and Deepti Sharma's resistance (10) at the end, India fell 11 runs short of Australia's total of 155/6.
Earlier in the day, opting to bat, Australia were dealt an early blow when Alyssa Healy (4) was dismissed in the very first over of the summit clash by Deepti Sharma, extending the wicketkeeper's woeful run with the bat. Mooney found an ally in Ashleigh Gardner (26), with whom the opener added 52 runs for the second wicket, and then Lanning, who also made 26 during a 51-run third-wicket stand to take the hosts past the 100-run mark in the 14th over.
A brief cameo from Rachel Haynes, coupled with Mooney's powerful strikes, ensured that Australia crossed the 150-mark in the final over. The hosts milked 19 runs in the final six balls despite losing Haynes' wicket, which in the end, proved costly for the visitors.
Mooney, who scored her second consecutive fifty, finished on an unbeaten 71 off 54 balls, that included nine hits to the fence. She was declared Player of the Series. Deepti, who opened the bowling, finished with impressive figures of 2/30 in her four-over spell, while Gayakwad had 2/32. Brief scores: Australia: 155 for six in 20 overs (Beth Mooney 71 not out). India: 144 all out in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 66, Jess Jonassen 5/12). (UNI)