Australia fend off England's challenge at Seddon Park

Kalyani Mangale
New Update
Australia fend off England's challenge at Seddon Park

Rachael Haynes celebrates her century. © Getty Images

A World Cup classic at the Seddon Park in Hamilton on Saturday (March 5) saw two sensational centuries, a classic three-wicket haul and a last-over finish fitting to the reputation of Australia and England. Racheal Hayne’s 130 trumped Natalie Sciver’s 109 as Australia won the high-scoring match by 12 runs in their opening fixture of the World Cup 2022.

Bowling first, England veteran Katherine Brunt started the proceedings with a maiden over against Haynes. Healy got Australia away in the second over with an attempted cover-drive off Anya Shrubsole. England captain added the pressure with two extra slips in Shrubsole’s second over but that yielded Australia 11 runs. The opening bowling partnership of Brunt and Shrubsole were able to control the usually attacking Healy-Haynes duo. That pressure resulted in Healy’s wicket for 28. She survived a close LBW call only to get caught at mid-wicket by Brunt.

Australia’s captain joined her deputy in the tenth over, with the run rate below four. While Lanning took time to settle in, Haynes welcomed England’s fourth pacer, Kate Cross with a boundary in her first over. When Lanning finally broke the shackles, she hit Sciver for four straight down the ground. The pair patiently added 38 runs in nine overs before Knight introduced Sophie Ecclestone in the attack. 

Ecclestone proved to be threatening early against Lanning, beating her outside edge twice. There was a scary moment for Lanning when a catch fell short at the fine leg. Halfway through their batting innings, Australia were 102 for one. They had wickets in hand but, the stagnated run-rate was the worry. Soon, the Australian leadership duo from Australia upped the ante with both Haynes and Lanning bringing out their half-centuries in the 30th over.

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Haynes took it upon herself to increase the scoring rate with Cross and Ecclestone in the firing line. An elegant shot off Haynes’ bat brought up the partnership of 150 runs. By the end of the 40th over, Australia were 210 as Knight and company were clueless against the right-hand and left-hand combination. Lanning then welcomed Brunt back with a fantastic pull over the mid-wicket. An over later, Brunt broke the partnership of 196 when Beaumont took a sharp catch of Lanning at point when Haynes was on 98.

That blow didn’t stop Haynes, who brought up her second ODI century in the very next over. That knock helped Australia go past 250. England’s best bowler since World Cup 2017, Ecclestone was clueless against Haynes and conceded 42 runs in just 28 balls against her. Haynes’ marathon innings of 130, which lasted for almost 49 overs was ended by Brunt with Wyatt taking a catch at deep mid-wicket. Beth Mooney and Ellyse Perry added 19 runs in the final seven balls of the innings to take Australia to 310 for three. England were guilty of sloppy fielding and conceded exactly 100 runs in the final 10 overs.

Defending champions started off their chase on a disastrous note. Annabel Sutherland took a sharp diving catch at the mid-on to send Lauren Winfield-Hill back to the pavilion in the very first over. England’s captain had to walk in early to rescue the innings. Beaumont got a lifeline on four as Lanning dropped an easy catch off Darcie Brown. Beaumont and Knight punished the youngster playing her first ODI World Cup match for 25 runs in her first spell. 

Lanning was forced to introduce the left-arm spin of Jess Jonassen, but the England captain tonked the left-armer for a six. Jonassen was taken out of the attack after two overs as she got hit for 16 runs. By the end of the 12th over England were truly in the chase with their run-rate past five. Lanning introduced the pace trio of Sutherland, Perry, and Tahlia McGrath to control the flow of runs. The tactics worked well even when Beaumont scored a half-century and went past 3000 runs in the ODI format.

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With the required rate piling up, Knight looked to go hard and ended up losing her wicket with a soft dismissal. McGrath broke the partnership of 92 runs to give Australia a much-needed breakthrough. Vice-captain Sciver joined Beaumont in the 19th over when England needed 218 runs. With no. two ranked ODI allrounder at the crease, the chase looked promising for England. Beaumont also looked primed for big innings.

Sciver and Beaumont added 57 runs off 52 balls to take England closer, but a flighted delivery from King sent back for 74. King struck in her next over as well and Amy Jones was dismissed for just four to swing the momentum in Australia’s way. Amongst this chaos, Sciver stood tall and hit Perry for 13 runs to keep England in the contest. McGrath came back to take Wyatt’s top of off-stump to bring Australia back.

The battle continued as Sciver found a partner in Sophia Dunkley. The pair showed their class with their running between the wickets and punishing the bad balls. Their partnership of 55 runs took England close to the target. Once Dunkley was bowled by King for 28, Brunt joined Sciver with England still needing 78 runs off eight overs. Sciver continued on her glorious ways on her way to the hundred from just 79 balls. 

The match went till the last over when England needed 16 runs. Jonassen took a brilliant one-hander off the second ball to send Brunt packing. It was followed by a dot ball. Jonassen only gave three runs off the final over and took two wickets to seal the win for Australia.

Brief Scores: Australia: 310 for 3 in 50 overs (Rachael Haynes 130. Meg Lanning 86; Natalie Sciver 2/68) beat England: 298 for 8 in 50 overs (Natalie Sciver 109, Tammy Beaumont 74; Alana King 3/59) by 12 runs