The first ODI of Australia’s tour of Pakistan proved to be a low-scoring affair. The tourists triumphed over Pakistan, successfully chasing down their revised target of 92, with five wickets and 112 balls to spare. Due to rain, the match was reduced to 41 overs a side.
Having won the toss, Pakistan’s skipper Javeria Khan elected to bat first. The batters however, failed to fulfill their duty with the bat. Wickets fell regularly as Khan (21 off 27) and Sana Mir (21* off 60) top-scored. Pakistan was undone by poor shot selection, with most of the batters going for soft dismissals, on shots that need not have been played. Khan was guilty of doing the same and later admitted in the post-match interview that she could have played it “for a single.” In their entire innings, the ball reached the boundary on just 10 occasions. With none of the batters firing, the hosts’ were bundled out for 95, in 37.2 overs.
The Australian bowlers though, did brilliantly, as Australian captain Meg Lanning said, to “peg back” the run-rate. They never let the pressure lift off their opponents and put in a disciplined effort with the ball. They were rewarded by regular breakthroughs. For Australia, Megan Schutt put in a Player-of-the-Match performance, claiming three wickets off 17 runs. She was well supported by Nicola Carey (3-19), Ashleigh Gardner (1-9) and debutants Georgia Wareham (2-22) and Sophie Molineux (1-9), who had a match to remember.
Given the line-up of Australia, it seemed as though the chase would be a straightforward one. Bets would have been placed on Australia winning by eight or nine wickets. Alyssa Healy and Nicole Bolton opened the batting and their partnership looked ominous. Chasing a revised target of 92, Australia were 40-0. Nashra Sundhu came through with the goods for Pakistan, bowling Healy for a run-a-ball 26. The partnership was broken and Mir was brought into the attack. She took three key wickets in quick succession, sending Lanning (4 off 7), Bolton (22 off 39) and Ellyse Perry (1 off 5), back to the pavilion in the space of 16 runs.
At 66-4, Australia were in trouble. Or they would have been, had the target been a competitive one. As it stood, Australia needed just 26 runs off 155 balls. Rachael Haynes combined with Beth Mooney in a 31-run stand, to steer her team over the line. With just one run remaining, Haynes chopped the ball onto her stumps, off the bowling of Anam Amin and had to walk back to the dugout. Amin did well to prevent the winnings runs from coming off her over. Mooney then hit a four off the second ball of the following over to register the win in style.
Pakistan’s bowling unit did well to take five Australian wickets. Mir, in particular, bowled well. She finished with figures of 3-26, while Sundhu and Amin chipped in with a wicket each.
Australia now lead the ODI series 1-0. They have also added two points to their tally for the ICC Women’s Championship. Pakistan really need to improve on their batting, if they want to win against Australia. Their opponents meanwhile, will be looking to get used to the conditions so that they do not lose wickets in clusters like they did today.