MOUNT MAUNGANUI: Australia underlined their status as Women’s Cricket World Cup favorites Tuesday with a convincing seven-wicket win over Pakistan in Mount Maunganui.
In-form opening batter Alyssa Healy led the way for the six-time champions with 72 off 79 balls, supported by 35 from skipper Meg Lanning and 34 from Rachel Haynes.
Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof scored 78 as her team made 190-6 after losing the toss and being put in to bat.
Despite a much-improved performance on their first-round loss to India, Pakistan paid the price for a sluggish run rate.
All-rounder Aliya Riaz made a creditable 53 but it came off 109 balls, while Australia’s top order scored at almost a run-a-ball.
The result puts Australia top of the tournament’s eight-team leaderboard but leaves Pakistan bottom with a struggle to make the final four after two losses.
“Everyone’s in really good form, we all got starts and I guess we’re all feeling in good nick,” Lanning said.
“Pakistan did extremely well and made it hard for us to take wickets so we were disciplined and kept that run rate in check.”
Pakistan’s total never looked enough against Australia’s formidable big hitters, who overhauled the target with 15.2 overs to spare, finishing on 193-3.
Bismah said Pakistan was unable to exert pressure in the field.
“We could have stopped them, they gave us chances but we didn’t capitalize,” she said. “In fielding, we could have done much better.”
Defeat left Pakistan without a win against Australia in 13 ODI matches. Pakistan faces South Africa on Friday while Australia’s next challenge is against hosts New Zealand on Sunday.
Women’s Day special
Both Australia and Pakistan have progressed fairly in women’s cricket over the years and the match provided both teams the opportunity to celebrate that on International Women’s Day (IWD).
The greatest measure of the progress women’s cricket has made on this IWD is that the 29-year-old Bismah played the innings while her daughter Fatimah, born in August, was in the pavilion. Bismah returned to international cricket six months after her daughter’s birth.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is sharing costs to allow Bismah to travel with a support person of her choice to assist in caring for her infant child.
Bismah’s mother cared for Fatimah while her mother was at the crease and in the field.
“Of course in this comeback it was very important for me to perform and it’s very special as my mother and daughter are here, so I wanted to make it count,” Bismah said.
Pakistan played India in their opening match on the weekend and India’s star batter Smriti Mandhana described Bismah’s return to international cricket as inspiring.
“Coming back post-pregnancy in six months and playing international cricket is so inspiring,” Mandhana said on Instagram.
“Mahroof is setting an example for sportswomen across the globe.”
PAKISTAN190-6 in 50 overs (Bismah
78 not out, Aliya 53; King 2-24); AUSTRALIA 193-3 in 34.4 overs (Healy 72, Lanning 35, Haynes 34; Omaima 2-39).