Australia avoid scare against Bangladesh despite Salma Khatun's three-wicket haul
Australia managed a victory courtesy of Beth Mooney's half-century © Getty Images
Salma Khatun’s inspired spell along with Lata Mondal’s crucial knock took Bangladesh close to an upset in their first-ever ODI against Australia, but Beth Mooney’s patient half-century took Australia over the line with five wickets in the hand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Friday (March 25).
A rain-interrupted match was shortened to 43 overs on each side, with Australia making one change in their playing XI. Ellyse Perry missed out with back spasms and was replaced by Darcie Brown. Megan Schutt and Brown opened the attack for Australia with heavy winds blowing. The opening pair of Sharmin Akhter and Murshida Khatun negotiated the pace attack early on and scored 28 runs off the first six overs. Australian captain Meg Lanning was forced to introduce spin early as Ashleigh Gardner gave her team a much-needed breakthrough in the final over of the power play.
Fargana Hoque joined Sharmin after the departure of Murshida when Bangladesh were 33 for one. In Jess Jonassen’s second over, Fargana became the first person to go past 1000 ODI runs for Bangladesh. That joy didn’t last for long as Annabel Sutherland dismissed the right-handed batter in her first over for just eight. Australia built the pressure with Jonassen’s spin, which resulted in Sharmin’s wicket in the 19th over for 24.
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Jonassen was rewarded for her patience and accuracy with the wicket of captain Nigar Sultana as she was caught at short fine leg by Tahlia McGrath. Mondal found a reliable anchor in Rumana Ahmed as the pair frustrated the Australian bowling attack for 12 overs. Mondal started her innings slow but found a boundary off Brown to start her innings. She hit a cracking cover drive off Schutt to show her intentions. She added 33 runs with Ahmed for the fifth wicket, who was dismissed for 15 by Gardner, as Jonassen took an easy catch at mid-off.
Australia were desperate to see the back of Mondal as they reviewed an LBW decision against her, only to see the ball had hit the gloves. She was eventually stumped by Alyssa Healy in the final over of the innings for 33. Salma Khatun played an important cameo of 15 runs in the death overs to take Bangladesh past 130. For Australia, Jonassen and Gardner took two wickets each while Sutherland and Schutt chipped in with a wicket.
Australia’s reply started on a familiar attacking note when Healy smashed a boundary off a free hit to open the account. Healy then swept successfully in Salma’s third over, which garnered her another boundary. She tried to repeat the same two balls later, only to find Jahanara Alam at deep square-leg. Lanning, on her 30th birthday, was stunned by a tossed-up delivery that took her off stump. After hitting her 15th ODI century in the previous game, Lanning was dismissed for an eight-ball duck.
It looked like Salma had broken the back of the chase when Fargana took a diving catch to send Australia’s vice-captain Rachael Haynes back for just seven. When McGrath walked in at five, Australia were 26 for three and still needed 111 runs. Mooney tried to counter-attack with back-to-back fours against Mondal, but Australia kept sinking as they lost McGrath. Australia found hope in the partnership between Mooney and Gardner, but it only lasted for five overs before Gardner was beaten by the turn and she was bowled for 13.
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Sutherland, batting in her second ODI of the World Cup, partnered with Mooney with the huge responsibility to rescue Australia. The pair negotiated the spin of Rumana and Salma early in the partnership and took the game forward. Sutherland survived a caught and bowled with Ritu Moni dropping an easy chance. Mooney took the responsibility to keep the scoreboard ticking, which helped Sutherland settle down. Bangladesh captain reintroduced Salma to break the partnership but the pair survived her spell. She ended her impressive spell of 9-0-23-3 in the 26th over, when Australia required 37 runs off 17 overs.
Mooney, calm under pressure, scored her half-century off 60 balls to take Australia closer to the target. Sutherland got yet another life, this time from Ahmed on 24, but by that time Australia only needed ten runs. Mooney and Sutherland’s partnership of 66 runs steered Australia home in the intense chase as they registered their seventh win in a row.
Brief Scores: Bangladesh 135 for 6 in 43 overs (Lata Mondal 33, Sharmin Akhter 24; Jess Jonassen 2/13) lost to Australia 136 for 5 in 32.1 overs (Beth Mooney 66*, Annabel Sutherland 26; Salma Khatun 3/23) by five wickets POTM: Beth Mooney