Friday, September 30, 2022

ICC: Late runs the hallmark of another Australia victory

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It’s not how you start but how you finish in ODI cricket and no team finishes better with the bat than Australia.

The six-time champions have batted first in two of their three ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 matches and both times they have scored at least 100 runs in the final 10 overs. 

In their opener, Australia’s late hitting was able to put the game just out of reach as England fell 12 runs short in their chase of a mammoth 311. 

While in Wellington today, Australia’s flurry of late runs seemed to kill any spirit New Zealand had as they succumbed to a 141-run defeat despite a promising start with the ball. Everyone else, take note: to beat Australia, limiting late runs is key.

With 10 overs remaining of their innings against England, Australia were 210 for one with Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes supremely comfortable as their partnership ticked over to 175. 

Australia were able to benefit from untidy bowling from England, Katherine Brunt conceding three extras off the 41st over on top of the nine runs Australia made all by themselves. 

Brunt fought back to dismiss Lanning for 86 but things didn’t get any easier as Beth Mooney made Kate Cross toil. Her and Haynes took 15 runs off the seamer and it was a sign of how things were going for England that Nat Sciver only conceding five singles in one over was a blessed relief. 

It was, however, only temporary as the final five overs all went for eight runs or more, Sophie Ecclestone’s last over the worst of the lot as she conceded 15. 

While England’s bowling seemed foolhardy, New Zealand were unluckier, coming up against three of the best all-rounders in world cricket who all just happened to wear green and gold. 

First up were Ellyse Perry and Tahlia McGrath, the master and the apprentice. They started the final 10 overs with a partnership of 51 already established but this time Australia had recovered from a shaky start to sit pretty on 164 for four. 

Hayley Jensen bowled two dots in the 41st over but they were combined with two fours, a no-ball four and a six, plus a single for good measure. It was ominous viewing for anyone who had been paying attention last Saturday. 

Lea Tahuhu and Amelia Kerr were able to restrain the pair to seven and eight runs an over before the batters brought up their century stand from 96 balls. 

Perry, 31, was dismissed by a moment of brilliance by Maddy Green in the field but a drop might have been less painful for the White Ferns. 

Ashleigh Gardner strode out to the middle for her first innings in almost two weeks having spent 10 days in isolation after testing positive for Covid on the eve of the tournament. 

The naturally gifted Gardner wasted no time getting settled despite the lack of gametime and, though she may be 5’6 tall, the 24-year-old reminded everyone she is very much a superhuman. 

She cut her first ball for four to get off the mark before really finding her stride, even as McGrath, Alana King and Amanda-Jade Wellington fell around her. 

She clobbered Hannah Rowe for successive maximums and then for good measure slashed two fours and a six off Tahuhu in the final over to bring up a breakneck 48 from 18 deliveries.

Australia ended on 269 for eight and 105 of those runs came from the final 60 balls as Gardner produced the highest strike rate for a score of over 30 runs in a women’s ODI with a mind-boggling 266.66. New Zealand, by contrast, collapsed to 128 all out.

The result was not just a significant one in terms of the World Cup. It also brought up a ton of ODI victories in ODIs for Australia against New Zealand, the most wins against a single team in one-day cricket by any side, male or female. 

With a record of 31 wins in their previous 132 ODIs against Australia, history was always against New Zealand. Today the game was sealed because Perry, McGrath and Gardner were all against them too.

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