MATCH REPORT: Australia v Pakistan

Pakistan failed to press home an early advantage, allowing Australia to put one foot in the semi-finals with a strolling victory at Leicester.

Without captain Meg Lanning, resting a recurring shoulder injury, Rachel Haynes stepped in to skipper the side, winning the toss and opting to bat on a green track at Grace Road.

But it was Pakistan who made the early going, reducing the Southern Stars to 7-2 with the early wickets of Beth Mooney for a duck, and an uncomfortable looking Nicole Bolton, LWB for 3 off 20 balls.

Haynes and Ellyse Perry began a slow, patient rebuild, which saw them make just 18 runs, without a single boundary, off the first 10 powerplay overs, as Perry in particular responded to the Pakistani tactic of bowling way outside her off stump by simply watching the ball pass harmlessly through to the keeper, as if she were playing a Test.

Haynes finally found the boundary for the first time in the 11th over; but Perry waited until 15th to hit her first 4.

It wasn't really until the dismissal of Haynes - visibly unimpressed with umpire Sue Redfern as she adjudged that Haynes had nicked a sharply turning ball from Sana Mir to the keeper - that the Aussies began to pick up the pace. Elyse Villani was given an early life as Sadia Yousaf backed-off a clear opportunity to catch her on the square leg boundary, and made the most of it, tonking 59 off 40 balls including 4 sixes, whilst Perry continued to accumulate in a supporting role at the other end. Villani was ultimately bowled by Marina Iqbal, as she tried to late-cut the spinner a little too late, but the course of the game had already begun to turn.

Perry eventually reached her 20th ODI half century off a sedate 81 balls before being dismissed rather tamely - bunting Sadia to Sana Mir at cover; leaving Alyssa Healy to take charge in the final 10 overs, which she did with aplomb. Healy finished on 63 not out as the Australians plundered 102 runs from the back-end of their innings, with important cameos from Ashleigh Gardner (22 off 13) and Sarah Aley (15 off 8), as Australia finished on 290-8.

Pakistan had little to offer in return, as they made no real attempt to chase the runs - pursuing a strategy of blocks interspersed with the occasional reckless slog.

Sarah Aley celebrated a debut wicket as Ayesha Zafar blocked one a little too enthusiastically and was caught by Elyse Villani at mid on, later adding a second; whist there were 3 wickets apiece for Ashleigh Gardner and leg-spinner Kristen Beams.

Pakistan's late-middle order - Iram Javed (21), Asmavia Iqbal (10) and Sana Mir (45) - made the Australians work up a bit of a sweat on a hot afternoon, but there was never any question which direction this game was headed, with Pakistan eventually bowled out for 131 in the final over to give the Australians the win by 159 runs.

Afterwards Sarah Aley, who admitted she had considered retirement 12 months ago, spoke of her delight at getting her first cap at the age of 33:

"To play for your country is the highest honour you can get in cricket. It has been a long time coming, but it was very special to get out there. There were times when I didn't think it was gonna happen - I was actually quite content playing state cricket, and then WBBL came along and that was the platform that allowed me to perform. There was contemplation of retirement 12 months ago, but that's now probably not on the cards for a little while longer."

Comments

  1. Certainly "one foot in the semi-finals"
    Australia - one more win and they are qualified
    India - also one more win and they are qualified
    SL and Pakistan - one more loss and they can't qualify

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  2. Another solid and professional performance by Australia, and a comfortable win, but I wonder if they might be feeling a little disappointed not to post 300+, which they really should have done. Or be beating Pakistan by nearer 200 runs, which they also should have done. I'm a little surprised they've not tried to outdo England's 370-odd totals but I suppose they'd rather just beat us instead. I've actually been more impressed by Australia's bowling than their batting so far. They don't look as strong without Lanning but I reckon she'll be back against England.

    One thing's for sure - England are so far the most entertaining side to watch, whether that's getting massive totals, or conceding them! As a fan this world cup has been phenomenal so far, and England have been a huge part of it already.

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