Women’s Sport: Australia survive scare against New Zealand to progress to World-Cup semi-finals

Hosts Australia avoided elimination from the T20 World Cup, as they overcame a valiant New Zealand side, to reach the semi-finals.

With both sides locked on four points heading into the match, the situation was straightforward for both sides. Win and you’re in the semi-finals. Lose and you’re heading home.

For a side that entered the tournament as such overwhelming favourites, Australia’s campaign up until this point had been anything but plain sailing. Defeat in their opening game against India, rendered their remaining games must win and despite a convincing win over Bangladesh, it took last over heroics from Elysse Perry to help them topple Sri Lanka.

Today, they were pushed all the way again by a New Zealand side which has similarly struggled for consistency this tournament.

Beth Mooney starred with the bat for the home side, making 60 from 50 balls, which included 6 fours and two sixes. This was backed up by valuable contributions from Meg Lanning (21) Ashleigh Gardner (20) , Elysse Perry (21) and an unbeaten 19 from Rachael Haynes. New Zealand struggled to restrict Australia for large parts of the innings, and coach Matthew Mott will be particularly pleased with his side’s running between the wickets, which kept the number of dot balls down to a minimum.

In response, the New Zealand top order all made starts, but struggled to keep up with the run-rate, which was hovering at around eight an over. Captain Sophie Devine, who has once again proved to be the white ferns main threat this tournament, made 31, but scored at a strike rate of just 86.

In truth, it was not until Katey Martin came to the crease that New Zealand gained any momentum. Blasting 37 not out from 18 balls, had Martin seen more of the strike then Australia could have found themselves in trouble. Yet, Martin was offered little support from the lower-middle order, as Amelia Kerr, Hayley Jenson and Anna Peterson failed to contribute and were all dismissed by the impressive Megan Schutt.

Renowned for her death bowling, captain Meg Lanning entrusted Schutt with this responsibility once again and it reaped the rewards. Finishing with figures of 3-28 from her four overs, New Zealand eventually came up four runs short, as the hosts completed their third successive victory. Georgia Wareham, brought into the side today, was the pick of the Australia bowlers, finishing with figures of 3-17.

The defending champions finish behind India in Group A and will meet one of England or South Africa on Thursday. Despite the return to form of Beth Mooney in this game, Australia will be disadvantaged by the news that Elysse Perry is likely to miss the semi-final through injury. Whoever the world number ones ending up playing therefore, will fancy their chances of claiming a historic upset.

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