It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is difficult enough to beat Australia. That is without gifting the world’s number one ranked a five-run head start. The umpires have been tasked with cracking down on players running down the pitch.
It is difficult to attribute whether Australia were at their relentless best or Ireland were overawed by the occasions as Australia won by 9 wickets with 65 balls to spare.
Ireland started off well enough, after winning the toss and choosing to bat. Openers Clare Shillington and Cecelia Joyce played out the powerplay for 27 runs. While not the quickest of starts they ensured that boundaries were scored from each of the first three overs.
The Australian bowlers bowled tight lines, they never strived too hard to bowl wicket-taking deliveries. Instead, they built up the pressure and waited for the Irish batters to make mistakes. Which they did, Cecelia Joyce was run out at the end of the seventh over. Joyce had only scored 7 of her 27 balls faced.
Shillington was going well at the other end but with the introduction of Ellyse Perry she walked across her stumps and was bowled trying to ramp Perry to a ball that was too full. It would have been frustrating to the Ireland spectators when Eimear Richardson went in almost identical fashion.
29 for 0 at the end of the powerplay, became 46 for 5. The fifth wicket to fall was the most controversial as Ireland batters Gaby Lewis and Laura Delany were warned for running down the wicket and then docked penalty runs. Lewis aware of the danger of more runs to be penalised ran wide in attempting a quick single and was run out by Georgia Wareham.
A quick-fire 24 from Kim Garth helped propel Ireland to 93 for 6 from their twenty overs. Given Garth’s history of playing in the Women’s Big Bash, it may have been worth moving her up the order.
It was always going to be difficult for Ireland to win from there and they would have hoped that they could make it difficult for Australia to get to the winning total. Lucy O’Reilly struggled to bowl to Beth Mooney conceding 5 wides. Richardson the other opening bowler struggled to grip the ball as well.
Alyssa Healy was again in a hurry to get things done. She brought up her fifty with a six from her twenty-first ball. It was the second-fastest T20I fifty after Devine (18). Healy has now scored five fifties in her last seven innings.
It was never going to be easy for Ireland and they came across Australia in their steam-roller best. Penalty runs or not Ireland did not have a chance with Australia justifying their favourites tag. What will be more worrying for the rest of the teams in the tournament is that Australia can play even better.