Beth Mooney has demonstrated once again why she’s the best T20I batter in women’s cricket, elegantly guiding Australia to a nine-wicket triumph over India in the first of their five-match international series. 

The left-hander stroked her way to an unbeaten 89, and with some substantial help from both new captain Alyssa Healy and all-rounder Tahlia McGrath on Friday, made a potentially difficult target in Mumbai look a piece of cake as the world champions maintained their unbeaten record in all formats in 2022.

India, the closest white-ball challengers to the all-conquering Australians, must have felt they were a major chance of becoming the first team to beat Healy’s side this year after they racked up 5-172, with wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh (36 off 20) and Deepti Sharma (36no off 15) providing key late impetus.

But opener Healy, after being handed her captaincy debut, made a brisk 37 off 23 balls in reply before a cheap dismissal off a full toss and then watched Mooney, currently the top-ranked batter in T20Is, take control at the DY Patil Stadium by moving into the most beguiling of top gears.

Ensuring the required run rate never got out of hand, the 28-year-old Victorian didn’t need to resort to slogging, just terrific placement and timing, as she moved to her unbeaten 89 off just 57 balls with 16 boundaries, while being well-supported by McGrath, whose 40no came off 29 balls.

The pair put on an unbroken 100-run stand for the second wicket off 56 balls as the Australians eased to 1-173 with 11 balls remaining, winning their 21st match in all in 2022 across T20Is, ODIs and Tests.

“I love pulling the Australian shirt on,” said Mooney, who reckoned she’d enjoyed “playing a couple of nice shots to get the team over the line” on a flat track and taking advantage of a fast outfield.

It may, however, have been a very different story if she hadn’t been dropped when on just four, Radha Yadav spilling a regulation chance at backward point off Renuka Singh which typified India’s poor day in the field.

Australia had earlier used seven bowlers, with Ellyse Perry, in her first T20I for more than a year, taking 2-10 in her early spell.

Debutant Kim Garth, the former Ireland all-rounder, marked her historic day as the first woman to play T20Is for two different countries by taking the wicket of Harmanpreet Kaur.

Healy, who’s been elevated to the captaincy while Meg Lanning continues her indefinite break from the game, was delighted to begin with a big win, but recognised room for improvement, especially after the way the team had leaked runs at the death in India’s innings.

“Let me tell you, it wasn’t that easy when we were on the field,” said Healy, when asked about her first taste of captaincy.

“But it was great to get a result.

“I thought they were below par with 172. As per stats, 185 is a par score here. We didn’t finish great with the ball but we knew we were in the game and if we batted well, we could get over the line.

“Probably, we’ll look to tidy up the death bowling because we didn’t finish well with the ball and some other areas in the field.”