Wellington: Beth Mooney battled gale-force winds, frigid temperatures and fading light to guide Australia to a five-wicket win over Bangladesh on Friday to ensure they finished the group stages of the Women’s Cricket World Cup with an unbeaten record.
Mooney made 66 not out and combined in an unbroken 65-run partnership with Annabel Sutherland (26 not out) to ensure Australia reached their winning target with 65 balls to spare.
The match at Wellington’s Basin Reserve began late because of rain and was reduced to 43 overs per side. It was played in a southerly gale so strong - with gusts topping 100 kph (60 mph) - that the umpires had to dispense with the bails after the 11th over of the first innings,
The players clung to their caps and shivered in the outfield as the temperature dropped to around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). Batters were knocked off balance and fast bowlers lost their run-ups as they were blown through the crease with the wind at their backs.
Only one group of players flourished in the conditions: spin bowlers had a field day. Tossed up or bowled flat into the breeze, the ball drifted and dropped and batters sometimes were at a loss to time their shots.
Off-spinner Ashleigh Gardner and left-armer Jess Jonassen shared four wickets for 36 runs from 17 overs as Australia restricted Bangladesh to 135-6 after winning the toss.
‘‘Without a doubt, these were the toughest conditions I’ve played in,’’ Jonassen said. ‘‘It was different but fun as well. The conversations as a spin group were about using the conditions and the wind, how it impacted our lines and the areas the batters hit.”
The target of 136 took on greater dimensions when off-spinner Salma Khatun removed the cream of Australia’s batting within the first 10 overs. Khatun dismissed openers Alyssa Healey (15) and Rachael Haynes (7) and then captain Meg Lanning for an eight-ball duck on Lannings’ 30th birthday.
Australia was 26-3, then 41-4 when Thalia McGrath fell to Nahida Akter. Sutherland joined Mooney with the total 70-5 and the pair showed the resilience and adaptability of the Australian team to ensure it completed its seventh consecutive victory at the tournament.
‘‘It was really tough to see the ball at the end there,’’ Mooney said. ‘‘We certainly wouldn’t have been bowling (fast bowlers) if we had been out there. It was really tough conditions. Obviously they bowled really well and put us under the pump so you have to work your way through that when you’re out in the middle.’’
Brief Scores: Australia win by five wickets. Bangladesh 135-6 in 43 overs (L. Mondal 33, S. Akhter 24; J. Jonassen 2-13, A. Gardner 2-23) vs Australia 136-5 in 32.1 overs (B. Mooney 66, A. Sutherland 26; S. Khatun 3-23).