Ellyse Perry went for 10 runs in her first over. She had bowled loose and short and Hayley Matthews punished her for it with two fours. Australia Women’s premier all-rounder, though, came back strongly to strike at crucial points in her team’s ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 opener against Windies Women on Monday, to star in a strong bowling effort to keep the opposition to 204.
Beth Mooney and Nicole Bolton, Australia’s left-handed openers, then played a free-flowing game, their 171-run stand for the first wicket making a victory, which seemed the likeliest result at the halfway point, inevitable.
Australia needed just 38.1 overs to complete its eight-wicket win at County Ground in Taunton, Bolton guiding the chase with a well-deserved unbeaten century.
Windies, batting first after winning the toss, could never recover from a slow start and grew increasingly dispirited as the game progressed. While Matthews looked set, her opening partner, Felicia Walters on One-Day International debut, and No. 3 Chedean Nation, who only came back to the side last November after seven years on the sidelines, struggled against the spin and pace combination Meg Lanning employed for much of the time.
Having faced 14 consecutive balls without a run, Walters lost patience to pull a short Perry delivery to square leg. If her seven runs ate up 30 balls, Nation consumed 73 for her 39. By the time Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin, the best Windies batters, got together, it was already the 33rd over with their team feeling the pressure to up the rate.
Megan Schutt and Perry’s first spells of 5-2-11-0 and 4-1-14-1 respectively were indicative of just how much Windies struggled on a pitch expected to be good for batting.
A change of ends worked for Jess Jonassen, the left-arm spinner, who denied the settled Matthews (46) a half-century. The youngster saw her leg stump sent flying by one that was full and straight.
Windies enjoyed its best period of the game for the brief 4.5 overs in which the fourth-wicket pair of Taylor and Dottin were together. Dottin showed no bias in attacking either the part-time medium pace of Elyse Villani or the established Perry. She had six fours in the 20 balls she faced, including two in the mid-wicket region off Perry. The Australian, however, backed her strengths to have the dangerous batter bowled the very next ball with a peach that uprooted the off stump, ending her stay on 29.
That, to make it 157 for 4, triggered a middle-order collapse and dented Windies’ hopes of making the most of the batting Power Play.
Taylor was still around, a six over long-on in the 44th over showing her intent, but two wickets in two balls dashed hopes for a strong finish. Anisa Mohammed, keen to give Taylor the strike, was caught short; then Taylor (45) didn’t get as much bat as she wanted, getting caught by Villani at long-on to give Jonassen (2 for 39) her second wicket.
Perry finished with 3 for 47, while Kristen Beams, the leg-spinner, had 2 for 30.
The 204 in 47.5 overs was never going to be enough against an in-form Australian side that bats deep.
Mooney and Bolton backed their shot-making with busy running. The two put up their first 100-run partnership in nine matches together, getting to the mark with a brace in the second ball of the 23rd over.
Windies had little luck in breaking the partnership, a short leg for Matthews when both batters were well set only copping a painful blow to the head. Shakera Selman, the unfortunate fielder, walked off the field with some help from the physio. News of her injury is awaited.
The two easily kept pace with each another. Mooney was the first to her fifty, a single to long-off in her 67th ball taking her there. Bolton followed three overs later, taking 70 balls for the landmark.
They both upped their scoring after the half-centuries. Mooney sent a full-toss down the ground for a six, while Bolton seemed hungry for her hundred. She smashed eight fours after her fifty before the ninth down long-on brought up her hundred off 108 balls.
Taylor had Mooney bowled for 70 and Matthews pulled off a stunning catch in the deep when Lanning tried to go over the ropes down the ground, but the damage had been done.
Bolton was unbeaten on 107, with 14 fours, and had Perry for company on five as Australia eased to the finish and began its title defence positively.