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Ashleigh Gardner digs deep to rescue Australia in Commonwealth Games debut
Australia are favourites to win the gold medal in the inaugural women’s T20 cricket at Birmingham 2022 and got off to a winning start against India.
Ashleigh Gardner rescued gold medal favourites Australia against India as women’s T20 cricket made its Commonwealth Games debut at Edgbaston on Friday.
The reigning 20 and 50-over world champions’ top order had initially faltered in reply to India’s 154 for eight, with Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning among those to lose their wickets cheaply.
But Gardner steadied Australia with an unbeaten 52 off 35 balls, as leg-spinner Alana King hit the winning runs off Deepti Sharma to seal a three-wicket win with an over to spare.
Edgbaston looked to be at around 50 per cent of its 25,000 capacity for an attractive opening match between 2020’s T20 World Cup finalists.
India, who appeared to have the more vocal backing from the stands, struggled initially with a horrible mix-up which cost Yastika Bhatia her wicket summing up their early endeavours.
Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur led by example with 52, but India’s total looked beatable when Australia’s reply began.
Australia made hard work of it though as Healy fell second ball to Renuka Singh Thakur, who took four wickets for 18 runs in all.
She also accounted for Australia captain Lanning, and at 49 for five Australia were in big trouble.
Grace Harris’ assured 37 restored some confidence, but when she fell with the score on 100, Gardner was the only recognised batter left.
The 25-year-old’s total featured nine fours as Australia got over the line, ably assisted by King at the death.
India will have to shrug off this defeat quickly with pool matches against Pakistan and Barbados to come.
Lanning said: “It was a pretty good fightback. We obviously didn’t start off as well as we would have liked with the bat but we feel like we have a lot of depth with our batting order and I think we certainly showed that today, it was classic T20 cricket where it changes pretty quickly.
“It certainly gives us a lot of confidence that we can win from any position.”
On playing in the Games’ first women’s cricket match, she added: “It’s really special, it’s been a great build-up. We’ve loved the atmosphere of the Games and embracing a new experience. Being able to play the first game is something we’ll certainly remember for a long time.”