Sydney: A historic series triumph already sealed, the Indian women's cricket team faltered in its quest for a clean-sweep as it went down by 15 runs to Australia in the third and final Twenty20 International following a spectacular batting collapse here today.
Chasing a victory target of 137, the Indians, who pocketed the series after winning the first two games, were comfortably placed at 94 for 3 in 13.3 overs before a middle-order collapse led them to end at 121 for 8 at the SCG.
The Indians scored just 27 runs from the last 6.3 overs and lost five wickets in the process to hand Australia a consolation win. Opening batsman Vellaswamy Vanitha top-scored with a 25-ball 28, which was laced with three boundaries and a six, while Harmanpreet Kaur (24) was the next notable contributor as the Indians gathered runs at a brisk pace but at the same time, kept losing wickets.
The visiting side made a flying start by scoring 33 runs from 4.4 overs for the first wicket between Vanitha and captain Mithali Raj (12). After two quick wickets, the Indians picked up the pace and were comfortably placed at 94 for 3 in the 14th over, needing roughly run-a-ball for a win at that stage.
But three quick wickets put paid to India's hopes as Kaur, Auja Patil (3) and player-of-the-series Jhulan Goswami (1) were dismissed in the space of 2.3 overs and for the addition of just 10 runs. In fact, India lost two wickets in the 16th over that ultimately made the difference in the match.
From a run-a-ball situation, India needed 27 from the last two overs and 23 from the final over. They could not accomplish the task though the Indians will return home with their head held high after their historic feat of winning their maiden series over mighty Australia.
For Australia, Ellyse Perry produced an all-round show to deny India a cleansweep. She hit an unbeaten 55 after Australia were put into bat before claiming 4/12 in the Indian run chase. Pacer Goswami was economical in her four overs, giving away 21 runs in her four overs while Rajeshwari Gayakwad claimed two wickets for 36 runs. Medium pacer Deepti Sharma (1/19) was also impressive in her T20 debut.
Earlier, Australia posted 136/5 as Goswami's excellent bowling and visiting side's sharp work on the field again made life difficult for the hosts.
A key partnership of 28 from the final 12 balls from Perry and Alex Blackwell (4 not out) added crucial late runs to take the hosts to a decent total. It was a familiar tale for the Aussies at the toss; skipper Meg Lanning on the wrong end of the flip of the coin for the third time in a row as India captain Mithali Raj again sent the hosts in.
Alyssa Healy was shifted to the top of the order, switching positions with Grace Harris after the latter's twin ducks in the first two matches. But Goswami ensured it was another disastrous start for the hosts, dismissing Healy with the very first ball of the match. It did not take long for Beth Mooney to find her groove, scoring two boundaries from the second over, and Lanning joined in the fun by striking two excellent sixes.
Australia then struggled to find someone to carry on with their innings, with first Lanning caught out in the deep on 26 before another promising start from Mooney ended with the opener on 34. After scores of 19 and 4 in the opening two games, Ellyse Perry made another cautious start -- including some audacious reverse sweeps using the back of the bat -- before she and Harris struck two sixes in as many balls.
But the trend of the Southern Stars' batting this series continued. Just when they started to look threatening, India's sharp fielding proved their undoing, with a direct hit from Harmanpreet Kaur removing Harris for 9, leaving the Southern Stars 97/4 after 15.2 overs.
Some late hitting from Perry helped them to 136/5 at the end of their 20 overs, as the all-rounder finished unbeaten on 55 from 41 balls. She brought up the milestone with a six from the final ball of the innings.