Smriti Mandhana’s career-best 80 not out had elegance written all over it as the Indian women’s cricket team reached 132 for 1 at tea during a rain-hit stop-start second session on the first day of the one-off Day/Night Test against Australia here.
Mandhana, who peppered the off-side field repeatedly with some gorgeous shots to reach 80 off 144 balls with 15 boundaries, added 93 for the opening stand with Shafali Verma (31 off 64 balls), who played the second fiddle during their partnership.
Most of the second session’s play was washed out but Mandhana added another 16 runs to surpass her previous best of 78.
She pulled Tahlia McGrath for a six over deep square leg and also carted the same bowler over mid-wicket for a boundary.
Giving her company is Punam Raut (16 batting, 57 balls) and they have added 39 runs for the unbroken second wicket stand.
The Australian team’s decision to field first after laying a green strip for the visitors did seem to have backfired as Mandhana attacked them straightaway during the first hour of play.
In fact, it was a case of role reversal which perhaps caught the Australians off-guard as Shafali was more intent on playing a defensive game while her senior partner attacked with great gusto.
Debutant Darcie Brown got some special punishment as Mandhana hit her for a number of boundaries both on the off-side as well as a few whip shots on the leg-side.
Ellyse Perry also took a few overs to find the right length. The elegant Indian left-hander reached her run-a-ball fifty in no time with a cover drive of McGrath.
Whenever Mandhana bisected between point and cover or cover or mid-off, it was the most pleasant sight.
In case of Shafali, she did hit four boundaries but also looked a bit scratchy and offered a couple of chances -- one to Meg Lanning in the slips which was a reflex catch and the other to Annabel Sutherland stationed at mid-on.
Finally she was gone trying to hit left-arm spinner Sophie Molineux against the turn and offered a sitter to McGrath at mid-off.
Brief Scores: India 1st Innings 132/1 in 44.1 overs (Smriti Mandhana 80 batting, Shafali Verma 31; Sophie Molineux 1/18) vs Australia.