This article was first written for and published by The Roar
The Australian women’s cricket team have guaranteed themselves a place in the ICC Women’s World Cup semi-finals and they did it in style yesterday with the biggest run chase in World Cup history to beat India by six wickets.
India and Australia have developed a healthy rivalry.
Who could possibly forget the opening night of the ICC T20 Women’s World Cup in 2020 when India defeated Australia by 17 runs with Poonam Yadav taking 4-19? Then, Australia got one back, defeating India in the final in front of more than 86,000 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Today was another classic contest between these two teams and it came down to the final over.
Here are some talking points from today’s game.
Incredible batting all round
After being sent in by Meg Lanning to bat, India was off to a shaky start with opener Smriti Mandhana departing for 10 and Shafali Verma not far behind for 12.
But just like Australia, India have depth in their batting order and it was their middle order which made the difference today.
Yastika Bhatia scored 59, Harmanpreet Kaur tormented Australia again, scoring an unbeaten 57 off 47 balls, and Mithali Raj scored India’s highest total of 68.
At the 30-over mark, India found themselves sitting at 144 runs with eight wickets in hand; seemingly a great opportunity to push past a score of 300.
Darcie Brown put a stop to that; but more on her later.
In response to India’s 277 runs, Alyssa Healy scored 72 off 65 balls, Meg Lanning fell on 97 – just short of a third World Cup century – and Rachael Haynes scored 43 off 53 balls.
Then there was Beth Mooney, who up against Jhulan Goswami in the final over, hit a boundary, ran for two and then another four to seal the win for Australia with just three balls remaining.
The role of Ellyse Perry must also be acknowledged. Perry batted alongside Lanning and it’s a combination Aussie fans have grown accustomed to during run chases. Lanning and Perry have batted together 14 times chasing down a score in ODIs. Twelve of those 14 combinations have resulted in 50-plus-run stands. They doubled that today, surpassing 100 in the 40th over.
Considering it was a record run chase, this win will fill Australia with plenty of confidence, particularly given that there was still more batting to come with the likes of Tahlia McGrath and Ashleigh Gardner.
The kid from Kapunda continues to have impact
At the start of the tournament, Australian coach Matthew Mott indicated that Darcie Brown would be in and out of the squad to manage her workload.
After being rested for the clash against the West Indies earlier in the week, Brown returned for the game against India and had immediate impact.
It was Brown’s bowling which dismissed Mandhana and then she claimed Verma thanks to a Mooney catch at gully.
Brown’s 3-30 was a real highlight, particularly considering some of the other members of the bowling attack struggled, including Perry, whose first over went for 12.
It wasn’t just at the start of the game that Brown had impact. When she returned in the 32nd over she claimed Bhatia, ending a 130 run partnership.
Brown’s workload remains a talking point ahead of Australia’s next game against South Africa.
Given the depth in the Australian squad, the selectors have had the chance to make changes ahead of almost every game. With Australia now guaranteed a spot in the semi-finals, what will the selectors do ahead of the Aussies’ next game against South Africa?
Australia’s next game against South Africa is on Tuesday and it promises to be a thriller. South Africa have come into this tournament and surprised everyone; currently sitting second on the rankings undefeated behind Australia.
The South African team has many players that women’s cricket fans will be familiar with; Marizanne Kapp, Lizelle Lee, Laura Wolvaardt, Sune Luus, Mignon du Preez, Chloe Tryon and Shabnim Ismail.
Compared to the other major cricketing nations like India and England, South Africa have had a relative lack of success in international tournaments, with a criticism being that it was a team of stars who had not yet learnt to work together.
That has changed this tournament, with dominant performances from the likes of Wolvaardt and Kapp.
The game against Australia will be a test for South Africa and I can’t wait. At the end, only one team will remain undefeated leading into the semi-finals.
When will we see a women’s IPL?
Whenever I watch Australia play India, I always ponder just how much potential the Indian women’s cricket team has.
The dominance of the Aussie team is no fluke. This team is as good as they are because Cricket Australia and the states have invested in women’s cricket. The Aussie women are full-time professional athletes and have the chance to focus on their craft full-time.
India really challenge Australia with current levels of investment; imagine what it could look like if these women were professional too.
We’ve been hearing talk about a women’s IPL for quite some time now. Not only will it be life changing for the Indian women and the next generation of Indian women who want to play cricket, but with the Hundred in England, it will give more women the chance to travel round the world as fully professional cricketers living out their dreams and getting better as they play alongside the best female cricketers in the world.
It’s time to make it happen.