Here's hoping the White Ferns were taking down some valuable notes on batting and bowling while watching the ICC Women's Twenty20 World Cup opener that exploded like a landmine in Sydney, Australia, overnight.
In crashing to a 17-run loss with a ball to spare, defending world champions Australia and victors India left a trail of dos and don'ts to leave the tournament wide open in pool A before Kiwi skipper Sophie Devine leads out her troops against Sri Lanka in Perth a shade before midnight Saturday, NZ time.
Having restricted India to a below-par 4-132 in the 20 allotted overs, skipper Meg Lanning and her teammates were beaming from ear-to-ear after they survived a Smitri Mandhana (10) and teenager Shafali Verma (29) onslaught before Deepti Sharma steadied the ship with an unbeaten 49.
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A morose India captain Harmanpreet Kaur watched as Sharma and Jemimah Rodrigues (26 runs) forged a 50-run partnership from 52 deliveries although the latter's reluctance to run between the wickets — owing mostly to ball watching — meant the pair had left up to 25 to 30 runs out at the slow Sydney Showgrounds wicket. Indubitably Rodrigues needed to tick the run rate over to give Sharma the strike but left it to Veda Krishnamurthy for an anaemic last five overs.
But not long after they had passed the half way mark of the run chase, things started to turn pear shaped for the smirking, bolshy hosts. It was Lanning's turn to start threading the worry beads as Ellyse Perry had triggered off a nail-biting frenzy. Wickets tumbled to Poonam Yadav, wrong 'un after wrong 'un. The tiny India leg spinner had bamboozled the Aussies to finish with 4-19 before walking away with the player-of-the-match award.
Despite an "out-of-form" opener Alyssa Healy's 51 runs and No 5 Ashleigh Gardner's 34, the Ockers were left stunned like kangaroos caught in a four-wheel-drive's headlights in Outback Australia.
What started out as Australia's game to lose was suddenly flipped on its head as India, whose average team age is 22.8, held their composure to skittle the hosts for 115 runs.
The lessons included not letting a rush of blood get to their heads. Mandhana was guilty of that and so was Kaur, who had lunged recklessly to a Jess Jonassen slow delivery only to have Healy stump her for two runs.
Regrettably Australia didn't join the dots as their batswomen also pleaded guilty to some wild willow whacking although medium pacer Arundhati Reddy had offered pies.
One has to assume that Yadav, returning from injury, had deliberately bowled the odd loosener to entice the batswomen into a false sense of easy pickings before deceiving them with flight and drift for stumpings and clean bowls.
Had Taniya Bhatia maintained her focus Yadav would have claimed a hattrick off Jonassen who the wicketkeeper had dropped off a thickish edge for a duck in the 12th over.
Post-match the tweaker said it was the third time she had missed out on a hattrick but took immense comfort in a collective victory.
It also was a lesson for other title contenders to be prepared to promote batswomen capable of taking singles in the middle overs, especially after wickets had fallen prematurely. Kaur should have dropped a peg or two in the batting line up because India would have benefited from her ability to land lusty sixes and fours in the death overs.
Perhaps the most glaring take-away point was never to give up and bank on your bowlers to do the job. Dot-ball currency eventually kicked in as Australia self-destructed.
The mixed deliveries of Shikha Pandey (3-14), especially in taking the pace off the ball, should not be lost in Yadav's accolades. Neither should Sharma's wicket-less but frugal spell that kept things relatively tight although India need to improve their fielding with sharper, flatter throws to the sticks.
Australia also found some respite from Jonassen after Perry, akin to Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Reddy, took some pasting with Molly Strano and Megan Schutt from short, wide and loose deliveries.
Lanning agreed her bowling attack did recover after the early onslaught but India deserved to win.
"We just thought about playing really straight but, obviously, we didn't quite execute the way we would have liked to, unfortunately," she lamented. It was a valid pointer for batswomen to sweep spinners rather than try to hit them out of the park or play across the line when pressure builds up in the doldrums phase of the innings.
Lanning bemoaned a lack of partnerships in the middle order but, to be fair, the Aussie top order — just as India had done — were trying to free up their arms when common sense suggested educated cricket shots in finding a boundary or two in an over would have been a better prescription.
She felt India had outplayed them but the prudent would argue the hosts had tripped over themselves even though they have a chance to claim a playoffs berth in pool A although the White Ferns will have other ideas.
All the talk was about the New Zealanders making a move but the Kiwis' assertion to refrain from looking beyond Sri Lanka is a wise stance. Sri Lanka will play a similar subcontinent brand of cricket, with wily spinners in the mix, so it won't be a stroll in the park.
Banking on Devine or Suzie Bates to do the job will be a recipe for disaster as educated batting and dot balls from every bowler, backed up with crisp fielding, should all be part of an airtight blueprint.
Kaur agreed it was an upset but, again, T20 has no respect for home advantages or complacency against any rivals so Australia were never favourites.
"This track was not easy to bat on so we were just looking at 140," she said.
Frankly India got out of jail with some astute bowling but their sub-par batting returns would never have been enough had Australia brought their cricketing smarts to the park.
Overall, it has added some spice to the world cup.