Alyssa Healy.
Alyssa Healy's Australians have lost a Test to India for the first time. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS
  • cricket

Australia slump to first Test loss to India

Scott Bailey December 24, 2023

Australia’s women have sunk to their first Test defeat to India, beaten by eight wickets on the last day of their one-off match in Mumbai.

After losing 7-55 to end their second innings, Alyssa Healy’s tourists could only set the hosts a target of 75 at Wankhede Stadium on day four on Sunday.

India claimed the victory with relative ease, recovering from the loss of Shafali Verma for four in the first over to chase down the target.

Australia were left regretting errors in the field, with Beth Mooney putting down a simple chance at first slip to remove Richa Ghosh off Ashleigh Gardner’s bowling before she had scored.

That would have left India 2-9 on a wearing and inconsistent wicket. 

Instead the hosts were able to cruise home with Smitri Mandhana hitting an unbeaten 38 and sharing a 51-run stand with Ghosh.

Australia’s defeat is their first in the format since January 2014, while it is also their first loss to India in 11 Tests played.

Annabel Sutherland bats.
 Annabel Sutherland’s 27 offered Australia’s only real resistance on day four of the Mumbai Test. Image by AP PHOTO 

The task of beating India in their home conditions was always going to be difficult for the tourists in their first Test in India since 1984, but they didn’t help themselves.

They slumped to 2-7 early on the first morning with Phoebe Litchfield run out for a diamond duck in the opening over, before being all out for 219 on the first day before India went to stumps at 1-98 en route to 406 in reply.

“They’re not easy to win over here, we found that out. We’d love to play a couple more to make it really interesting,” Healy said.

“It’s our first opportunity to play red-ball cricket over here. So we are learning on our feet.”

While Australia were briefly able to fight back into the match at 3-206 in the second innings, they were always on the back foot.

There were self-inflicted wounds when Mooney was run out wandering out of her crease in the team’s second innings, while fellow opener Litchfield was bowled reverse sweeping.

And after captain Harmanpreet Kaur removed Tahlia McGrath (73) and Healy (32) late on day three, the rot continued on Sunday.

Gardner was lbw to a Pooja Vastrakar inswinger in the second over of the morning, out on review for seven. 

Only Annabel Sutherland offered any real resistance on day four on Sunday, producing several punches through the covers and a glorious on-drive.

But she was caught behind on 27, when an attempted sweep shot against Sneh Rana (4-63) ballooned off her glove and into the hands of Yastika Bhatia.

Alana King was bowled next ball by Rana when she played on, before fingerspinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad (2-42) bowled Kim Garth and Jess Jonassen to wrap up the innings.

Sneh Rana (left) took 4-63 as India cleaned up Australia for 261.
 Sneh Rana (left) took 4-63 as India cleaned up Australia’s second innings for 261. Image by AP PHOTO 

“If we had batted for 30 or 40 overs this morning and put 100 or 150 on the board, things could have been really interesting this afternoon,” Healy said.

“We had one bad day, it made things really challenging for us.

“The fact we fought for the next two and a half days and got the game to the position that it was this afternoon, I think was a huge effort from our group.”

The win has the sleeping giant of the women’s game quickly transforming into a genuine heavyweight, after India also beat England in a Test earlier this month.

“It’s a reward for all the hard work we have done for so many years,” Kaur said.

“We just thought if we can play positive cricket that can really help us. We have been playing with this group for so many years. 

“Hopefully after these two wins we will get many more Tests in coming years.”

Three ODIs between the sides follow in the next week, before the tour finished with another three T20s.