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Monday, May 23, 2022

Australia hold off England at Cricket World Cup on a day for records | Women’s Cricket World Cup

Rachael Haynes barely got a look in last time a 50-over Women’s World Cup was played, back in 2017: she was selected for just two of the matches – both times only because Meg Lanning was sitting out with a shoulder injury. One match into Australia’s 2022 campaign and how the tables have turned.

On Saturday it was Haynes who led the charge, hitting her maiden World Cup century as she took Australia to a 12-run victory in their opening encounter of the tournament against England. Lanning, meanwhile, joined her for a record-breaking second-wicket stand of 196 (the highest ever partnership against England in an ODI), but was generally content to play second fiddle, falling 14 runs short of a century of her own.

It was a day for breaking records. By the time Haynes was dismissed in the penultimate over, holing out to deep midwicket, she had 130 runs to her name – the highest individual score ever made against England in a World Cup. A mini-onslaught from Ellyse Perry (14 not out from five balls), who smashed three boundaries from Sophie Ecclestone’s final over, then took Australia to a total of 310 for three – the highest ever against England in a World Cup.

Unassailable? Only just, as it transpired. At 232 for six in the 42nd over, England looked down and out; but where Katherine Brunt is concerned, you should never count them out.

Joining fiancée Sciver at the crease, the pair proceeded to smash 64 from 45 balls, taking England within touching distance of victory. Only a stunning one-handed grab from Jess Jonassen, tasked with defending 15 from the last over, could do for Brunt. Sciver, who had brought up a brilliant 79-ball hundred in the 48th over with a sneaky little paddle through fine leg, finished unbeaten on 109, as Australia’s convincing win turned into a nail-biter. Only one match in for the defending champions and it’s pretty clear that this World Cup is going to be one wild ride.

England’s run chase had started limply before Sciver’s hundred showed the way to brighter things. The usual suspects did their thing: Lauren Winfield-Hill bagged a four-ball duck, while Amy Jones holed out to midwicket in single figures. In between times, Heather Knight (40) showed intent, striding down the pitch to slam Jonassen’s first ball over long-off for six, while Tammy Beaumont (74) became the fastest woman to reach 3,000 ODI runs.

Alana King of Australia celebrates the wicket of Sophia Dunkley.
Alana King of Australia celebrates the wicket of Sophia Dunkley. Photograph: Andrew Cornaga/AP

Fittingly, on a day when the cricket world was united in mourning for the untimely death of Shane Warne, it was leg-spinner Alana King (three for 59) who further dented England’s hopes, doing for Sophia Dunkley just when her sixth-wicket partnership with Sciver looked to be gaining momentum. King herself, after ripping the ball past Beaumont’s outside edge and having her stumped, tapped her black armband to acknowledge the debt.

Earlier, having been put in to bat by Knight, Australia’s innings had been a curiously lop-sided affair: Haynes’s first 22 runs took 47 balls to acquire, while fellow opener Alyssa Healy departed early, popping up a gentle catch into the hands of Brunt at mid-wicket in the ninth over. While Lanning and Haynes stuck it out, they had to graft for their runs.

It was not until both players had secured their half-centuries in the 31st over that they felt able to accelerate. Haynes charged down the track to Ecclestone, while Lanning evinced a scowl from Brunt by pulling her for six over deep midwicket. In fact, Lanning looked well set for a hundred of her own but, unbelievably, cut straight into the hands of Beaumont in the 43rd.

Haynes was unfazed. With help from Beth Mooney (an unbeaten 27 off 19), the last five overs yielded another 59 runs for Australia – the most productive phase of the innings and, as it turned out, utterly crucial. On this day, in this World Cup, it was Haynes’s time to shine.

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