Aust's great escape in Games cricket debut

·3-min read

Australia's unwavering belief was on show again as Ash Gardner guided her side back from the brink to beat India in Twenty20 cricket's Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham.

Chasing 155 to win in the tournament opener on Friday at Edgbaston, Australia were teetering at 5-49 after opening bowler Renuka Singh Thakur ripped through their star-studded top order.

But the allrounder wasn't fazed, piloting the favourites home with six balls and three wickets to spare.

Alana King (18 off 16) hit the winning runs and Gardner finished unbeaten on 52 off 35 balls to extend the T20 and 50-over world champion side's unbeaten streak in all forms to 14.

She combined with the similarly unflustered Grace Harris (37 off 20), who took 14 off an over to turn the tide and ensure there was no repeat of the T20 World Cup pool loss to the same opposition last year.

Gardner was careful early but then clicked into top gear once Harris, who pipped bowling allrounder Nicola Carey for a spot in the XI, exited in what proved a match-turning 51-run partnership.

"Five-for-50; everyone had probably written us off at that point but I knew what Grace was capable of doing and she showed it," Gardner told reporters.

"I think a lot of teams would feel the pressure at that point, but we've been in those situations before and come out on top.

"We know how to win games and when our backs are up against the wall like today we know how to get out of those situations."

The victory was a crucial one, leaving India no wriggle room in games against Caribbean champions Barbados and Pakistan to ensure they qualify in the top two to earn a semi-final berth.

Thakur (4-18) had 4-8 at one stage, dismissing Alyssa Healy with the second ball then adding Meg Lanning, Beth Mooney and Tahlia McGrath as Australia struggled on the unfamiliar hybrid surface.

Earlier, India's batters kept coming at Australia, Shafali Verma hitting nine fours in her 48 off just 33 balls before Healy's decision to review a caught behind paid off.

Smriti Mandhana (24 off 17) looked in top form and Harmanpreet Kaur's late flurry (52 off 38) pushed India beyond 150.

Jess Jonassen (4-22) at one stage had 4-15 before Kaur lifted the final ball of her spell well over the long-on fence, while Megan Schutt (2-26) held her nerve with two wickets in the final over.

Lanning admitted theb Australians hadn't handled the extra bounce of the hybrid surface well.

But she never doubted their ability to salvage a historic victory in cricket's first Games appearance since a one-off, 50-over men's tournament in 1998.

"It wasn't ideal, clearly, but ... once Grace strode to the crease we still felt there was a good shot to win if we got some momentum back," she said.

"And that's exactly what happened."

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