Meg Lanning & Alyssa Healy clobbered centuries in the first ODI against West Indies. © Getty Images

Centuries from Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning headlined Australia’s 178-run thrashing of West Indies in the first ODI at Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua on Thursday (September 5).

The pair, who came together at the fall of the first wicket off the first ball of the match, strung together a wonderfully constructed 225-run partnership in 38.4 overs to set a solid platform for Australia. As is her style, Alyssa Healy took the attack to the bowlers, pummeling anything even slightly off length. When Shamilia Connell dug the ball in, Healy crunched her pull shots, and when she pitched up, creamed her cover drives. It was a wonderful exhibition of strokeplay from the wicket-keeper who brought up her half-century in 52 balls.

At the other end, the ball was pinging off Lanning’s bat. Having hit peak form at the back end of the Ashes series in England, the Australian skipper continued on her merry way. Having struck a couple of well-timed square drives, Lanning slowed down slightly, with an aim to entrench herself firmly at the wicket. She notched up her fifty in 75 balls, bringing it up with a typical swat off her pads over square leg.

Healy meanwhile continued on her merry way, peppering the mid-wicket boundary against the the spinners. She was quick on her feet— stepping out to get the ball on the half-volley, and jumping back to unleash her pull. The right-hander rode her luck— she was dropped twice through the course of her innings— on her way to her second ODI century.

Expectedly, upon reaching the mark, Healy began to tee off. She targeted the straight boundary against the medium pacers, while going leg side against the spinners. Eventually, she chanced her arm once too often, top edging a slog sweep off Afy Fletcher, to be caught by Shabika Gajnabi on debut. She was dismissed for a 105-ball 122.

The opener’s exit saw Lanning shift gears. She took charge of the innings, starting to find the boundary at will, and brought up her 13th ODI century off 137 balls. A powerful slog sweep off Stafanie Taylor for six helped her reach the milestone.

The following eight deliveries brought Lanning 17 runs, including two fours and a six, which took Australia closer to the 300-run mark. Her aggressive intent, however, saw the end of her, as she was caught on the boundary trying to lift  Shamilia Connell over long off. Lanning’s knock of 121 was an incredibly well-paced knock— one in which she changed gears quite beautifully, settling in, and understanding the pace of the wicket, before taking on the bowlers.

A cameo from Ellyse Perry (33 not out) and a useful contribution from Beth Mooney at the back end (15) helped Australia reach a total of 308 for 4 in their 50 overs.

Chasing 309, was never going to be an easy task for an injury hit West Indies team. After Hayley Matthews had been ruled out, and Kycia Knight had hurt her back in the field, their batting cupboards already looked quite bare. However, Australia’s burst with the new ball, further compounded the hosts’ problems.

Just as Connell had done for West Indies, Megan Schutt struck with her very first ball of the day, trapping Natasha McClean plumb in front for a golden duck.

Following the right-hander’s dismissal, it was the Perry show. The right-arm pacer carried on her splendid form from England picking up three wickets in her first spell. She charged in, pitching the ball up, and getting it to swing late to reduce the hosts to 23 for 4.

First she cleaned up Stacy-Ann King with a full pitched delivery. Then Kyshona Knight was struck on the pad, trying to maneuver another full ball to the leg-side, before Reniece Boyce— in her comeback game— walked across her stumps and became Perry’s second lbw victim.

At that point West Indies were reeling, and effectively five down. Taylor waged a lone battle, smothering the Australian bowlers in an attempt to resurrect the innings. She shared a 31-run stand with Chinelle Henry for the fifth wicket, but the entry of Georgia Wareham ended that partnership.

The leg-spinner, who looked to be troubling the batters with the turn she was generating, got Henry to chip an innocuous delivery straight back to her. It was the first of two wickets Wareham would take in the day. The second was down to some brilliance from Lanning at slip. She dived full length to her right and pouched a screamer in one hand to see the back of Gajnabi.

West Indies never really recovered from there. While Taylor attempted to delay the inevitable with a gritty knock, she recieved no support from the rest of the line-up. The West Indies skipper notched up her 34th ODI fifty along the way, finishing unbeaten on 70.

Eventually the hosts were dismissed for 130 (wth Kycia Knight absent hurt), falling 178-runs short of the target in the first ODI.

The victory means Australia have thus equalled England’s total of 24 point in the championship table, but still have five games up their sleeve. They look set to continue their dominant run.

West Indies will have to quickly pick themselves up in order to challenge their might. Otherwise, a series whitewash certainly looks inevitable.

 

Brief Scores: Australia 308/4 in 50 overs (Alyssa Healy 122, Meg Lanning 121; Shamilia Connell 2-53) beat West Indies 130/9 in 37.3 overs (Stafanie Taylor 70*; Ellyse Perry 3-17, Georgia Wareham 2-44) by 178 runs.