Australia 143 for 4 (Perry 27*, Gardner 13*) trail India 377 for 8 dec (Mandhana 127, Deepti 66) by 234 runs
A booming inswinger from Goswami crashed into left-hander Beth Mooney’s leg stump in the seventh over and when she returned for her second spell in the 23rd over, she renewed her battle against Alyssa Healy, who had creamed her for a crackling cover-driven four five balls into Australia’s innings. In her second burst, Goswami, in the space of three balls, beat Healy’s defence with one that came back in, hurled a bouncer into the opener’s front shoulder, and drew a faint outside edge with an outswinger to leave Australia at 63 for 2.
Goswami challenged Perry, taking an inside edge precariously close to her stumps on 2 and then beating her front-front drive’s outside edge. With Australia on 86 for 3, Perry survived an lbw appeal on 8, with replays showing Gayakwad taking top of leg in what eventually proved to be a pad-bat front-foot block.
After Lanning’s departure, a steady rebuild had ensued via a Tahlia McGrath-Perry stand, before McGrath’s uppish cut to Smriti Mandhana at point gave Vastrakar a well-deserved second wicket.
Aggressive tactical ploys from India captain Mithali Raj bookended the day’s play, both in the form of attacking field placements inside the circle and repeated insistence on swapping the wet ball with dry ones before a final burst from the three quicks post-tea.
Deepti put on 45 with Taniya Bhatia, building on India’s overnight score of 276 for 5. Before Perry removed Vastrakar for 13 at the stroke of the dinner break, Stella Campbell offered a reverie-snapping breakthrough with her second ball of the day. The tall debutant’s nagging fourth-stump line, helped by healthy bounce and carry off the drop-in surface, forced Bhatia to prod at the outswinger for wicketkeeper Healy to gobble it up, and give the 19-year-old her maiden Test wicket. She clocked 124kph with that delivery.
Having picked up her first wicket of the series in the second session of the truncated day two, Perry almost had a second with her third ball of the day. An inswinger, Perry’s yorker, struck right-hander Bhatia on toe on the off-and-middle line, but there was hardly an appeal for lbw. From that lifeline on a duck, Bhatia, playing her first match since the ODI series against England, unfurled an array of cover drives and cuts before perishing to Campbell.
Deepti then added 40 with the Vastrakar, playing mostly risk-free against spinners and pacers alike, riding on five scares since day two, including two close shaves past first-slip Lanning. The closest of them was when, on 24, she nearly chopped on and her attempt to brush the ball, rolling millimetres away from the off stump, almost put her in further jeopardy. A single off her 148th ball took her to her second straight Test fifty, the previous having anchored a rescue act against England. After she was given out when India batted on briefly after dinner, replays showed the ball had pitched outside leg. In the absence of DRS, the umpire’s call couldn’t be challenged.
With just the fourth day left in the game, chances of a second drawn Test for India this year – extending their unbeaten streak to six in the longest format – seems the likeliest outcome.
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha