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'Nothing's out of reach' - Mooney turns up, and turns it on, after recovering from illness

"I didn't anticipate to be out there for the whole 40 overs but I managed to get enough suss in me today"

S Sudarshanan
10-Dec-2022
Beth Mooney scored a match-winning 89 for 57 balls in the first ODI  •  BCCI

Beth Mooney scored a match-winning 89 for 57 balls in the first ODI  •  BCCI

Beth Mooney hadn't been well since reaching India for Australia's five-T20I series. She turned up for training for the first time on the eve of the opening T20I, but wasn't sure if she would be fit to play.
A combination of going out sightseeing with "leader and mentor" Kirby Short, her former Brisbane Heat captain who is in Mumbai as part of the broadcast crew, and the efforts of the support staff in the first few days, helped Mooney "turn a corner" and make the XI. And, at the floodlit DY Patil Sports Academy, she played a steady, unbeaten knock of 89 off just 57 balls to help Australia hunt a 173-run target with nine wickets in the bank to go 1-0 up in the series.
"I didn't anticipate to be out there for the whole 40 [38.1] overs but I managed to get enough suss in me today," she said after her Player-of-the-Match performance. "I was flaying in the end and telling TMac [Tahlia McGrath] to hit a few boundaries. I had just enough in the tank to get us over the line."
When Australia lost Alyssa Healy after a 23-ball 37, Mooney was on 34 off 30. In McGrath's company, she kept the scorecard ticking but runs were not very easy to come by on a track that was pretty good for batting with the outfield lightning quick.
"Stats tell us 185 was winning total. We didn't think they were quite at par. We knew good cricket shots and a couple of big partnerships were going to win the game"
Beth Mooney
"My communication with TMac was we need one big over to break the back of the chase," she said. "[We wanted to] try and make them do something different to what their initial plans were. India had some pretty good plans upfront - to Midge [Healy] and me and to TMac and me - through the middle. So we had to think ahead and disrupt that a little bit to get a big over."
The big overs came on cue. Australia took 14 off Deepti Sharma in the 13th over and 60 in the next four overs. They then cruised home with Mooney and McGrath finishing with an unconquered 100-run partnership.
"That's the mindset," Mooney said. "You have to take a few risks as long as they are within reason and within your own game."
Mooney, who now averages just a shade under 50 in T20Is against India, also gave a peep into the mindset that has made Australia - who have not lost a T20I since March 2021 - the pre-eminent team in the game.
"I think landscape of the game is changing," she said. "Gone are the days when [the asking rate of] ten an over seems out of reach. That shows where the game has gone globally in the last couple of years. Chasing 170 or trying to get ten an over three or four years ago seemed almost unattainable.
"These days. as long as you have belief in the dressing room - which we undoubtedly have in ours - nothing's out of reach [as long as] you have the mindset."
Mooney, like Healy in the post-match presentation ceremony, also said that India, who posted their second-highest T20I total against Australia, finished with a total that was under par.
"Stats tell us 185 was winning total. We didn't think they were quite at par," Mooney said. "We knew good cricket shots and a couple of big partnerships were going to win the game. They cashed in at the back-end with wickets and Deepti gave us a bit of a blueprint. Whilst it was a daunting score two or three years ago in T20 cricket, it was about par on this wicket. Batting in the second innings with dew meant the ball skipped on."
Playing a match after recovering from sickness and putting in a match-winning performance is now routine for Mooney. Ask Sydney Sixers' Class of 2019. Or, if you are in Navi Mumbai, Harmanpreet Kaur's Indians will tell you.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo