‘That shouldn't happen on a cricket field’
THE captain of the Australian women's cricket team Meg Lanning was at the centre of a truly bizarre incident during the final of the T20 tri-series against India.
Batting first, Australia was consolidating nicely as Lanning partnered Beth Mooney at the crease. The hosts were 2/96 when on the second ball of the 14th over, Lanning miscued a drive to mid-off and set off for a quick single.
Shikha Pandey charged in, picked the ball up and threw at the stumps. The Kookaburra looked like it was on track to hit the woodwork and Lanning would have been short of her ground by a couple of metres.
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But somehow, the skipper survived.
Pandey's bounce throw landed just centimetres short of the stumps and she was probably already celebrating but the ball hit the little box at the base of the pegs that houses the stump microphone cables.
The top of the box went flying and the ball took a wicked deviation, changing course dramatically and missing everything.
Lanning dived desperately to make her ground - even though she wouldn't have been saved had the bails been knocked off - and there's every chance she had no idea how she survived.
After lifting her head off the turf, Lanning and Mooney came back for a second run because the ball travelled all the way to the outfield after the deflection.
Channel 7 commentator Jason Richardson said: "I think that's deflected off the cover of the microphones there.
"Shikha Pandey cannot believe it."
Former Australian Test star Brad Hodge was of the belief Lanning was a goner until fate intervened.
"It (the ball) looks like it's going to hit (the stumps) and it actually deviated to the right," Hodge said.
"To the naked eye it does look like that's hitting the stumps."
Hodge later added: "That shouldn't happen on the cricket field."
The Australians compiled 6/155 from their 20 overs, Mooney top scoring with 67 not out, her third fifty of the tournament.
Female International Twenty20 Player of the Year Alyssa Healy finished the tri-series with 15 runs at an average of three.
Lanning and Ash Gardner smacked 26 each, while Rachael Haynes managed 18 from seven balls at the death.
In response, India's run chase started promisingly, the tourists were 1/51 after seven overs but then Australia's pace bowlers stepped up.
They put the ball short, relying on bouncers to make breakthroughs, and the plan worked. Top order batsman Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues were all dismissed with short-pitched deliveries.
Teenage sensation Annabel Sutherland also claimed her maiden international wicket on Wednesday, and was swamped by her teammates.
Despite some sloppy fielding by the Australians, the hosts cruised to a 11-run victory, off-spinner Jess Jonassen the chief destroyer, finishing with 5/12 from her four overs.
The five-wicket haul was Jonassen's best figures in international cricket, and are the second best T20I figures ever by an Australian woman - spinner Molly Strano claimed 5/10 in 2017.
Australia's opening match of the Women's T20 World Cup will also be against India, at Sydney Showground on Friday, February 12.