All 8 teams were in action today at the Women’s World Cup of Cricket, and I got to see my first live game. The main TV commentary team was in Derby along with a sell-out crowd to watch India play Pakistan. Nearby in Leicester South Africa faced off against West Indies. England were in Taunton taking on Sri Lanka, but I opted to go for Australia v New Zealand in Bristol because I thought it would be the best game of the four. I was right.
The SA-WI game was a disaster. South Africa won the toss and asked West Indies to bat. They then proceeded to rip through the fragile WI batting order, dismissing them for a mere 48. Only Chedean Nation of the WI bats got into double figures. When it was their turn, SA knocked off the runs required in under 7 overs.
Are West Indies really that bad? Certainly they are 0-3 for the tournament thus far, and much be looking forward to playing fellow basement-dwellers, Pakistan. But the smart folks at CricketHer point out that South Africa have a great pace attack and conditions at Leicester this morning suited them perfectly. We’ll see how well those bowlers do when they front up against England in Bristol on Wednesday.
Batting appeared to be difficult in Derby as well, with India struggling to 169/9. The in-form Mandhana and Raj both failed, and it was down to Punam Raut (47) and Sushma Verma (33) with two aggressive knocks to enable them to post a decent total. It was a different matter when Pakistan batted. They could muster only 74 runs between them, with Ekta Bisht taking 5/18. Pakistan must be terrified of her. She took 5/8 against them at a match in Colombo earlier this year.
In Taunton Chamari Atapattu was unable to repeat her heroics from Bristol, but Sri Lanka managed an almost-respectable 204/8 batting first. It wasn’t going to be a stroll for England, and when they lost both openers leaving them 50/2 it looked like it might be a contest. However, Heather Knight (82) and Sarah Taylor (74*) gradually took control and brought home an impressive 7-wicket victory. They looked like they could have chased down 300 without any difficulty.
And so to Bristol. New Zealand won the toss and opted to bat. This was, after all, the pitch on which Atapattu and Lanning had both passed 150 just a few days ago. However, the NZ batters never seemed to be able to get going. Suzie Bates was the most impressive, but a lapse of concentration after passing 50 saw her back in the pavilion. Thankfully Katie Perkins (62) and Erin Bermingham (35) put on a fine rearguard action allowing NZ to post a final score of 219. Interestingly it was the spinners who did most of the damage, with Ellyse Perry looking very ineffective despite getting the ball up around the NZ women’s chins a lot.
In an interview at the interval Meg Lanning said that the pitch looked older and slower, suggesting that there were not a lot of runs in it. Certainly Australia started slowly. Lanning and Perry then built up a partnership, with Lanning looking her imperious self. She hit the only 6 of the match which flew over my head and smacked into one of the flats that line the Ashley Down Road end of the ground. However, she was caught behind off Amelia Kerr on 48, and when Ellyse Villani was bowled the very next ball it looked like we had a match on our hands. Australia were not scoring quickly enough, and if NZ could just keep things tight they were in with a real chance.
The slow scoring continued as Perry and Alex Blackwell rebuilt the Australian innings. With 8 overs left they needed almost a run a ball. However, they had plenty of wickets in hand. Perry picked this moment to accelerate, passing 50 and, shortly thereafter, 2000 career runs in one-day internationals. She holed out on the boundary for 71 trying to end the game with a six, but Blackwell calmly finished the match off with 8 balls to spare.
With everyone having played three games, India and Australia are both 3-0. South Africa look like dark horses with two wins and that wash-out against NZ. England and NZ both look in the hunt, while Sri Lanka have played better than their 0-3 record suggests. The action resumes on Wednesday with Australia-Pakistan, England-South Africa and India-Sri Lanka. I’ll be in the radio studio that day so there will doubtless be some live updates.
My next live game will be England-Australia next Sunday.