An imperious exhibition of spin bowling from Erin Osborne has ensured Australia remain undefeated at the 2013 Women’s World Cup. The win guarantees Australia a berth in the World Cup final.
The Southern Stars completely dominated the tournament surprise packet Sri Lanka in Mumbai on Sunday and Osborne’s spell was as ruthless as it was parsimonious.
The 23 year-old from New South Wales bowled six maidens on her way to 3 for 9 from a startling ten overs, in a player of the match performance.
Australia made the most of a dew-soaked Brabourne Stadium after winning the toss. The decision to bowl proved fruitful with the combination of tough conditions and good bowling making batting appear more difficult than nuclear medicine.
Megan Schutt (2/34) set the theme for the Sri Lankan innings by dismissing Yasoda Mendis for a 14-ball duck with a vicious off-cutting delivery that obliterated her stumps.
The Australians tactic of using off spin early proved to be a masterstroke. Lisa Sthalekar (2/26) extracted plenty of purchase in what was to be a prelude to Osborne’s wizardry.
If Osborne was the star, there was plenty of supporting roles. Julie Hunter (1/6 from six overs) starved the Sri Lankan side of runs with a frugal spell. 17-year-old Holly Ferling (1/23) provided a spectacle by unleashing some thunderbolts in a very fast display of bowling, while Sarah Coyte (1/31) was unlucky not to have more wickets after finding the edge of the bat regularly.
Sri Lanka could only manage 131 runs, which appeared well below par. The innings was punctuated by near perfect fielding from the Southern Stars, including a scintillating catch by Alex Blackwell to dismiss Sri Lankan power hitter Eshani Kaushalya.
The Southern Stars left no doubt about their intentions with the bat, running down the target in just 22.2 overs for the loss of only one wicket.
The sole casualty was Meg Lanning (37 from 36 balls), who was caught attempting to finesse the ball to the third man area. Lanning had smashed one of the biggest sixes of the tournament the ball prior to her dismissal.
Rachel Haynes (71 not out from 61 balls) put the icing on the cake with an attractive array of hard hitting. Haynes blasted the Aussies past the Sri Lankan total in quick time and found the perfect ally in Jess Cameron (22 not out off 36 balls).
The emphatic fashion of the win (in what could have been a tricky match) should provide a fillip for Southern Stars confidence for the remainder of the tournament.
Provided they can replicate this form, it will take a special team to stand between them and winning back the World Cup.