Australia march-on with another Lanning century in the chase

Kalyani Mangale
New Update
Australia march-on with another Lanning century in the chase

Australia's captain Meg Lanning © Getty Images

Meg Lanning's 10th ODI century in chases and her 15th overall in the format helped Australia beat South Africa by five wickets on Tuesday (March 22) at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Laura Wolvaardt's fourth consecutive half-century at the World Cup and another quick-fire half-century from captain Sune Luus was not enough for South Africa as Australia chased down the total with 28 balls remaining.

Australia won the toss and invited South Africa to bat first in the clash of the undefeated sides in the World Cup. Darcie Brown made way for Annabel Sutherland in the playing XI for Australia. Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt started the proceedings for South Africa by hitting 10 runs off Ellyse Perry’s opening over. Perry was wayward in her spell, but Schutt was economical as ever. This inconsistency from Perry prompted Lanning to introduce Jess Jonassen’s spin early in the innings. The patient South African openers found a way to score 41 off the powerplay. 

Lanning implemented a double change immediately and introduced Ashleigh Gardner and Annabel Sutherland. Gardner found her way after being hit in the first over and bowled a maiden against Lee. Australia couldn’t find a breakthrough even after using six bowlers in the first 18 overs and their headache intensified when Ellyse Perry had to leave the field with a sore back. Alana King finally made the breakthrough in the 20th over when she trapped Lee for 36.

South Africa’s new inclusion, Lara Goodall, couldn’t find her rhythm but Wolvaardt was in her zone against the Australian bowlers. She resorted to her trademark cover drive early against Schutt and kept her calm when Australia were looking to build dot ball pressure. She brought up her fourth consecutive half-century of the World Cup with a backfoot punch. Her 86 ball half-century kept South Africa in the hunt for a big total as she found a reliable partner in captain Sune Luus, the pair took the team past 150 in the 35th over.

Wolvaardt and Luus changed the gears completely after going past 150 and started a counter-attack to put Australia under pressure. Their partnership of 91 runs put South Africa in a strong position, with Luus contributing 51 runs. Wolvaardt missed her well-deserved century by 10 runs when she found McGrath at mid-off to perfection. McGrath was in the action once again as she caught Luus off Schutt in the next over. 

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Gardner’s one-hander stunner sent Mignon du Preez back for 14. Marizanne Kapp and Chloe Tryon hit 43 runs in the final four overs to take South Africa to a competitive total in the first innings. None of the Australian bowlers stood out in particular, with only Schutt, Jonassen, and Gardner completing their quota of 10 overs. 

After chasing a record-breaking total against India at Eden Park, Australia’s chase began on a nervy note. Shabnim Ismail found an outside edge from Alyssa Healy’s bat in her second over as Trisha Chetty completed a diving catch. The pair of Lanning and Rachael Haynes survived the short-ball barrage from Ismail early in the chase. Kapp, on the other end, could not get any wicket, but supported well Ismail early on. Luus unleashed the pace trio against Australia’s captain and vice-captain inside the powerplay, but Australia managed to score 44 runs off it.

Another stunner in the match, this time from du Preez, ended the promising partnership between Lanning and Haynes. Beth Mooney had to walk in at four, joining her captain when Australia needed 227 runs off 39 overs as Perry was not able to bat at her usual position because of her time away from the field in the first innings. The left-hand and right-hand combination of Mooney and Lanning went to work immediately, with Lanning hitting her hallmark flick off the pads for six. Both players looked threatening as they found boundaries with ease. 

Tumi Sekhukhune, who was making her tournament debut, faced the brunt of Lanning’s counter-attack as she went for 25 runs in her first two overs. She redeemed herself with the run-out of Mooney when she was on 21, but that just paired Lanning with McGrath. Lanning looked in ominous form since the beginning but she changed gears after Mooney’s departure. 

McGrath supported her captain with efficient running between the wickets and punished the bad balls. She was dropped by Luus early in the innings and that just helped Australia to get back in the chase. Australia piled the pressure on and kept the run-scoring well above the required rate. Halfway through the chase, they needed 126 runs, with Lanning set for a big score. Hoping to break the partnership, Luus re-introduced Kapp in the attack but it didn't deter Lanning, who continued her good form. She made full use of a full-toss offered by Khaka to reach her first century of the World Cup.

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Another barrage of short balls from Ismail finally broke the partnership of 93 runs between Lanning and McGrath. Once McGrath was caught at mid-wicket by Kapp, Gardner, playing her 100th match, showed her intentions with two back-to-back boundaries off Ismail. South Africa's sloppy fielding didn't help their cause as Lanning and Gardner's 43 run partnership off just 39 balls took the wind out of South Africa's defense. Sekhukhune finally held to a catch to send Gardner back for 22.

Australia opted to go with Annabel Sutherland, instead of Perry, when they needed 31 off 11 overs. Sutherland made most of her first batting outing for Australia and hit two fours and a six to close down the deficit. Lanning remained unbeaten on 135, her second highest in a chase to give Australia their sixth victory of the World Cup 2022.


Brief Scores: 

South Africa 271 for five in 50 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 90, Sune Luus 52; Annabel Sutherland 1/26) lost to Australia 272 for five in 45.2 overs (Meg Lanning 135*, Tahlia McGrath 32; Shabnim Ismail 2/33) by five wickets