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Blackwell, Lanning take Australia Women to victory

South Africa Women starts strongly through Dane van Niekerk but fizzle out to go down by six wickets

18 March 2016 23:07 By Snehal Pradhan, Nagpur

Blackwell, Lanning take Australia Women to victory - Cricket News

Australia Women begin its Women's World T20 campaign with a win.

On a Nagpur pitch that did not offer the turn expected of it, Australia Women beat South Africa Women by six wickets under lights in an ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Group A match on Friday (March 18).

After South Africa won the toss and batted, it failed to cash in on a positive start, only managing 102 for 6. After an early scare in their reply, Australia coasted to the target with nine balls to spare.

Alex Blackwell, who came out to the toss as Meg Lanning was recovering from an upset stomach, batted serenely despite some early wickets, and top scored with an unbeaten 42 off 46 balls. For the South Africans, Dane van Niekerk stood out with her innings of 45 in 47 balls at the top of the order, but the middle order imploded and it eventually fell well short of a par score.

Australia was rattled early in its chase by a fiery couple of overs from Shabnim Ismail, who castled Alyssa Healy and had Elyse Villani chopping on. Marizanne Kapp then removed Ellyse Perry for nought to have Australia at 9 for 3 in the fourth over.

With Lanning being off the field for some time, she could not bat at her usual No. 3, and South Africa sniffed an upset. The frenzy abated, though, when Ismail was taken off, as Blackwell and Jess Jonassen added 44 for the fourth wicket, taking 12 runs off the ninth over to break the shackles.

Jonassen was stumped with 49 still needed, when Lanning walked in and showed no signs of poor health. She combined with Blackwell to guide the world champion home with no further hiccups, hitting five fours in her 30 off just 19 balls, which earned her the Player of the Match award. By the time Ismail came back to bowl two of the last three overs, the Australians needed just 13 runs. Nine balls later, the target was achieved, with Ismail’s fourth over going unused.

Earlier, South Africa got off to a robust start, but the openers were guilty of not being able to raise the tempo after getting their eye in. Van Niekerk and Trisha Chetty (34 in 41 balls) bade their time in the first four overs, but took 26 runs off the next two, to give them a respectable 39 for no loss after the Power Play. Van Niekerk, in particular, looked in imperious form, stepping out and dismissing Rene Farrell for six over long-on, a monster hit that went into the stands. However, once Lanning spread the field, South Africa found the boundary only once more in the next 14 overs.

The Australian catching first blew cold and then red hot. Erin Osborne and Perry dropped both the openers off their own bowling, but after that, Australia took four brilliant catches to snuff the life out off the middle order. The best of the lot was Sarah Coyte's effort at point, where she dived to her left to dismiss Dinesha Devnarain’s full-blooded stroke.

Perry and Lauren Cheatle then picked up two wickets each on a pitch where the spinners were expected to hold sway, and South Africa finished tamely.

Please click here to review the match in full in the ICC Match Centre