Women's Cricket World Cup: Australia score nervy 12-run win against England
Hamilton, March 5, 2022
Australia started their quest for a seventh ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup title with a nervy 12-run win over England at the Seddon Park in Hamilton on Saturday.
Opener Rachael Haynes’s perfectly played 130 helped Australia set England an imposing 311 to win but a superb batting performance from the defending champions kept them in the hunt for what would have been a great chase.
Opener Tammy Beaumont gave England a chance of chasing down the huge total before leg-spinner Alana King swung the pendulum back Australia’s way. Nat Sciver then produced a stroke-filled century that again threatened to take the game away but the asking rate proved just a little too high in the end overs.
England fell short of a record chase and Australia emerged victorious in another battle for the ages between the old adversaries and what was another engrossing match early in the eight-team tournament.
Australia were sluggish at the start. Alyssa Healy, whose last act at an ICC event was to hit 75 from 36 balls in the T20 World Cup final in 2020, was out for 27 from 32 this time, her reprieve from an lbw dismissal lasting only four balls.
Instead, Sciver would force Healy into sending a shot straight to the hands of Katherine Brunt to leave Australia at 37 for one from the powerplay. Healy had been leading the scoring and despite captain Meg Lanning and her deputy Haynes having over 6,000 ODI runs between them, they struggled to get going.
Their frustration was laid bare when Haynes flailed at a Kate Cross delivery and by luck rather than design it found the gap between two fielders. But a sign of what was to come emerged two balls later when Lanning dispatched a short ball from Cross to the cover point boundary.
Five overs later it was Katherine Brunt’s turn to scowl, as Sophie Ecclestone dropped Lanning in the deep with the captain on 27 from 51. Australia then comfortably passed milestones, Lanning’s 18th ODI fifty coming from 75 balls and Haynes’s own half-century from two fewer deliveries.
It was their seventh century partnership together in one-day cricket and their 150 would be brought up not long after as the ruthless Australians smelled blood.
Despite Brunt seeing a review for lbw not given, a calm head prevailed as she rallied her England side while the big screen flashed up the outcome.
She regained her composure only momentarily as in the next over she bowled back-to-back wides before Lanning hit the first six of the game, a beautiful pull shot that sailed over the deep mid-wicket boundary.
Brunt would get revenge of sorts as Lanning had to go after finding Tammy Beaumont at point, the fielder recovering from an injured shoulder the over before to hold on to the forceful shot.
Lanning headed back to the hutch having made 86 from 110 balls and despite Australia being 231 for two with seven overs remaining, the captain knew there was a century to be had.
Haynes would get the job done three balls later, bringing up her second ODI hundred from 115 balls with 11 fours.
Haynes would eventually depart for 130 from 131 balls as she produced a rare mistimed shot and sent the ball to Danni Wyatt in the deep.
Mooney and new batter Ellyse Perry closed out the innings with four fours from seven balls to take the Australian total to 310 for three.
England’s reply got off to the worst possible start, as struggling opener Lauren Winfield-Hill was out for a fourth-ball duck after replays showed Annabel Sutherland took the diving catch cleanly.
Her dismissal brought out the captain Heather Knight and her rebuild alongside Tammy Beaumont, the player of the tournament in 2017, was emphatic.
While the first boundary came 23 balls into the innings, England scored freely, the two experienced batters rotated the strike with ease.
England had introduced spin in the 19th over, but Jess Jonassen came into the attack for Australia with only nine overs gone. Knight showed exactly what she thought of that decision clubbing her over long-off for the first six of the innings.
Another bowling change brought another important moment for England as Tahlia McGrath’s first over saw Tammy Beaumont bring up her 15th ODI fifty, six balls later her 3000th ODI run would be chalked up too.
There would be no milestone for Knight as she fell for 40, caught by Lanning at cover of the bowling of McGrath, England slipping to 92 for two.
The most poignant moment of the game came as leg-spinner and Shane Warne fan Alana King got her first wicket of the evening.
A turning delivery bewitched Beaumont as Healy whipped off the bails, King pointed to the black armband, a tribute to her idol.
Amy Jones would fall to King too before Danni Wyatt was bowled by McGrath for 177 for five to leave England in trouble and Sciver needing to produce a miracle only she would be capable of.
Sophia Dunkley was an able partner until King bowled her for 28 before Katherine Brunt wound back the years as her and fiancée Sciver dreamed the impossible dream.
Sciver’s 100 was brought up off 79 balls with 12 fours with England's hopes surviving thanks to a straightforward drop from Darcie Brown.
Jonassen was tasked with defending 17 from the final over and produced a remarkable caught and bowled to dismiss Katherine Brunt.
With that England’s hopes were extinguished as the defending champions lost by 12 runs.
Scores in brief
Australia beat England at Seddon Park, Hamilton by 12 runs
Australia 310/3 in 50.0 overs (Rachael Haynes 130, Meg Lanning 86; Nat Sciver 2/68, Katherine Brunt 1/54)
England 298/8 in 50.0 overs (Nat Sciver 108 not out, Tammy Beaumont 74; Alana King 3/59; Tahlia McGrath 2/51)
Player of the Match: Rachael Haynes (Australia)