India wins then loses an epic thriller a ball later ”“ the agony and ecstasy of a no-ball

By Kersi Meher-Homji

In my seventy years of watching cricket, I can’t recall a match as thrill-packed as the second one-day international (ODI) between Indian women and Australian women in Mackay last night. It was a heart-stopper decided by a no-ball.

The Indian women were ecstatic when Nicola Carey was “caught” off the second last ball of the match to “win” the match by one run. But the TV umpire declared that the delivery from Jhulan Goswami was a no-ball because it was high. The next ball Carey took two runs and Australian women had won for an incredible finish.

Cricket incredible cricket.

Sent in to bat India scored freely, opening batter Smriti Mandhana stroking 86 and Richa Ghosh 44. The seventh wicket partnership of 53 between Pooja Vastrakar and Jhulan Goswami took India to a promising 7 for 274.

Australia started poorly losing 4 for 52. It seemed that the Australians winning streak of 25 matches in a row would come to the end. But opener Beth Mooney (125 not out) and Tahlia McGrath (74) added 126 vital runs for the fifth wicket with the Indian fielders committing errors. “Game on”, exclaimed the commentators.

The match swung back India’s way when McGrath was dismissed by Deepti Sharma. But newcomer Nicola Carey batted with confidence, adding precious runs with Mooney. Oh, the twists and turns!

Mooney and Carey had added 86 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket when came the pulsating final over, Australia needing 13 runs to win. After hesitation and consultations skipper Mithali Raj handed the ball to fast-medium bowler Goswami. And what an over!

Goswami conceded 3 runs off the first ball, 2 off the second, there was a no-ball, a bye, a leg-bye and 2 runs before the dramatic second last delivery. Carey was caught cleanly by fielder Yastika Bhatia and the Indian girls celebrated for a splendid victory. But the TV umpire Phillip Gillespie declared that the delivery from Goswami was a no-ball as it was pitched above waste high.

The equation of three runs from last ball became two runs from one ball and the Australian batters scored that with ease as the mid-on fielder was too deep. Australia won off the last delivery and the Indian team was devastated. So was this writer. Agony had replaced ecstasy in the Indian camp.

Mooney was the Player of the Match for her splendid and unbeaten century which guided Australia from a certain defeat to an exciting victory.

Beth Mooney said at the presentation, “I was pretty disappointed that I left 13 for the last over but credit to Nic [Carey], it was a great partnership at the end and thought we had really great plans. We were guessing what they were going to bowl, you just got to run hard and was lucky I had a bit left in the tank.”

Indian captain Mithali Raj  responded sportingly, “It was a great game played by both the teams, was thinking it was around 550 runs today. The batting department has done really well. For me, it [the no-ball] was quite a nervous last ball because anything could have happened, we didn’t expect a no-ball but it is part of the game and we were all on the edge of our seat. We will continue to put up the show we did today.”

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