By Shashank Kishore in Sylhet
Ireland slumps to 78-run defeat after Australia captain smashes 126 off 65 in total of 191 for 4
The protagonist of the win was Meg Lanning, the captain, who overcame poor form with a blitzkrieg that sent the bowlers on a leather-hunt under the harsh Sylhet sun. Lanning's 65-ball 126 set the tone for Australia's 191 for 4 in 20 overs after it opted to bat. The total proved to be too steep, as Ireland, who came out with nothing to lose, ended on 113 for 7.
Lanning, who had chopped a length ball onto the stumps in the previous game, had a good 30-minute hit before this match. She then came out and hit 18 fours and four sixes – the ferocity of the onslaught putting an inexperienced attack on the defensive.
The Lanning fury allowed all the other batters to play themselves in. Delissa Kimmince, who opened the innings with Alyssa Healy, played second fiddle in an 86-run stand for the second wicket with Lanning that set the tone for the final flourish. Kimmince’s 34 came largely off singles.
While Australia displayed its dominance, the scoring rate didn't receive a big boost till the 10th over. But once Lanning smashed three fours and a six inside the next two overs to bring up her half-century off just 33 balls, the carnage that was to follow became all too evident. While Lanning kept teeing off, Kimmince occasionally served notice by hitting the odd boundary. Her innings ended with a simple catch to Cecelia Joyce at deep square-leg.
That brought Alex Blackwell to the crease. Australia's vice-captain, equally destructive and capable of clearing the boundaries at will, decided to sit back and enjoy the show from the best seat in the house, allowing Lanning to hog the limelight and scoring just 12 in an 83-run stand.
When it rains boundaries like it did, it's easy to get immersed in the numbers, but it was hard to not notice the quality of strokes. Lanning’s hundred came off just 53 balls, and in a sign of immense satisfaction, Lanning also held her pose for the photographers a number of times, pumping fists and quickly running over to her partner to celebrate a special knock, one that she had evidently enjoyed playing.
The pressure of a daunting total told on Ireland right at the start. Holly Ferling, who had been left out of Australia's previous game, bowled flat out and kept a check on the runs. Her spell of 3-1-7-0 was an indication of the fire in her belly, while Ellyse Perry also returned to form by taking 2 for 17 off three overs.
Ireland also lost wickets to run-outs, with both Isobel Joyce, the captain, and Melissa Scott-Hayward, falling short while attempting tight second runs. With the top order gone, the chase became more of an exercise in damage limitation.
Against a rampant Australian team eager to overcome a summer of disappointment following its Ashes loss though, Ireland's mistakes occupied only a small corner of the larger picture.