Bowlers call the shots in an exciting, low-scoring match

Australia’s bowlers came up with a nerveless display to defend 147 and deny England victory in a low-scoring thriller in the Super Six opener on Friday in the ICC Women’s World Cup.

England experienced the highs and lows associated with the 50-over game — rising from six for 39 to come within sight of victory as three runs were needed off 15 balls. Holly Colvin’s attempted square-cut off Erin Osborne’s off-stump line was pouched by wicket-keeper Jodie Fields to bring the match to a dramatic end.

The loss will hurt England because its batters did not support an outstanding bowling effort in the morning.

Captain Charlotte Edwards, who departed in the third over, attributed the loss to reckless strokeplay. “Two poor decisions didn’t help, but we also lost three batters in the middle-order to poor shot selection. We need those people to stand up,” she said.

After Aussie skipper Fields won the toss and opted to bat at the Brabourne stadium, her batting line-up stood exposed to swing as Anya Shrubsole (three for 24) and Katherine Brunt (two for 22) excelled with movement and control.

By the 13th over, Australia was reduced to 32 for five, with Shrubsole getting rid of the top-three.

Then, Lisa Sthalekar and Sarah Coyte staged a rescue act, putting on 82 for the sixth wicket. Sthalekar made a brave 41 (59 balls, 4x4), while Coyte compiled a patient 44 (81 balls, 6x4). There were no notable contributions apart from the duo as the Australian innings petered out in the 45th over for 147. In pursuit of a modest target, England began disastrously. The defending champion found itself down to six for 39 by the 11th over, with Lydia Greenway alone showing application. Greenway and Laura Marsh raised hopes of victory, taking England to 96 before the latter departed for 22. Presently, Colvin and Shrubsole, England’s number 10 and 11, found themselves at the crease, with 34 still needed for a win.

Remarkably, the pair put on 31 without working up a sweat.

Then, with three runs needed off 15 balls, off-spinner Erin Osborne looped one up to Colvin. Possibly eyeing the winning runs, Colvin stepped back for a cut, and ’keeper Fields moved outside the off-stump in anticipation and held the edge.

Fields screamed with joy and her teammates converged at the wicket to celebrate a truly hard-fought win.

Sthalekar, who had figures of 10-5-19-1 bowling her off-spinners, to go with her 41 runs in a low-scoring encounter was declared player of the match.

“We backed all our players and they came good,” explained Fields after clinching the win.

Australia now heads the Super Six with six points, carrying over four from the group stage.

The scores: Australia 147 in 44.4 overs (Sarah Coyte 44, Lisa Sthalekar 41, Meg Lanning 17, Anya Shrubsole three for 24, Katherine Brunt two for 22, Arran Brindle two for 33, Holly Colvin two for 19) bt England 145 in 47.3 overs (Lydia Greenway 49, Laura Marsh 22, Holly Colvin 16, Danielle Wyatt 16, Holly Ferling three for 35, Julie Hunter two for 15, Megan Schutt two for 37).

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