In a match made solemn by tragic circumstances, an Australian team batting with two black armbands beat England by 12 runs Saturday in its opening match at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup at Hamilton, New Zealand.
Australia scored 310-3 batting first and a magnificent century from 79 balls by England’s Nat Sciver kept England in the match until the final over. Sciver was 109 not out at the end of an outstanding England run chase.
England needed 36 from the last three overs, 26 from the last two and 16 from the final over but fell short, finishing 298-8. Jess Johansen who had given up 16 runs from her first two overs, mostly to Sciver, bowled the last over and held her nerve to clinch Australia’s win.
The Australian players awoke on match day to news of the death in Thailand at 52 of the legendary Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne. That came only 24 hours after the loss of another Australia great, wicketkeeper/batsman Rod Marsh, who died aged 74.
A minute’s silence was observed before the match, players from both teams standing with their heads bowed before the Australian anthem rang over a silent stadium.
When Australia batted after losing the toss, it was almost with a sense of duty to make their own tribute to Warne and Marsh through their performance.
It was a performance of which Warne and Marsh, who both were inspirational mentors to young Australian players, would have been proud.
Opener Rachael Haynes made 130 from 131 balls and captain Meg Lanning 86 as Australia scored the highest total ever posted against England in a World Cup match. Haynes and Lanning put on 196 for Australia’s second wicket in the partnership on which the innings was founded.
“It was hard at the beginning, they bowled well early on,” Lanning said. “Rachael played really well to weather the early storm. Rachel’s innings was brilliant. She was in control, got through early, took good risks at the right time. It’s certainly one of her best innings.”
It was Haynes’ second century in one-day internationals and her highest score, eclipsing her 118 against Sri Lanka in Brisbane in 2019. Lanning posted her 18th one-day international half century and helped Haynes pace the Australian innings.
At Dunedin, Ayabonga Khaka took 4-32, including her 100th wicket in one-day internationals, as South Africa beat Bangladesh by 32 runs. South Africa made 207 batting first after losing the toss.
Opener Laura Wolvardt anchored the top of the order with 41 from 52 balls in challenging batting conditions. Bangladesh used its slow medium and spin bowlers to good effect on a slowish pitch at the University Oval, making strokeplay and placement difficult.
Captain Sane Luus batted 50 minutes for 25 before being run out when South Africa was 119-5 in the 34th over, needing to lift its run rate.
Marizanne Kapp and Chloe Tryon took on the role of accelerating the scoring and combined in a partnership of 71 for the sixth wicket which lifted South Africa to 190-6. Kapp made 42 from 45 balls and Tryon 39 from 40. South Africa was 203-9 when Kapp was out in the 49th over.
Bangladesh made a strong run at its winning target after Shamima Sultana (27) and Sharmin Akhter (34) shared a 69-run opening stand in 19.3 overs.
Captain Nigar Sultana made 29, Ritu Moni 27 and Bangladesh was still in with a chance at 170-7 with four overs left. But Khaka helped suppress the Bangladesh chase.
“We are proud of Ayabonga Khaka, she is our golden arm at the moment,” Luus said.