It was never in doubt. All Australia did with their nine-wicket win against Sri Lanka at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai was reaffirm their credentials to become world champions of women's cricket.
The Kangaroos cruised to victory against underdogs Sri Lanka, chasing down their target of 132 runs in just 22.2 overs at a run-rate of 5.91 -- after a classy bowling performance.
Rachel Haynes (71 not out, 61 balls, 9x4, 2x6) drove a boundary through the cover region to give Australia their fifth consecutive win at the ICC Women's World Cup and take their team a total of eight points in the Super Six -- enough to take them to their eighth World Cup final. New Zealand, West Indies and England are all on four points, with only the top two playing for the cup.
Jess Cameron remained not out on 22 (37 balls, 2x4) at the other end, after coming in for Meg Lanning, who scored a quick 37 (36 balls, 6x4, 1x6) to set the Aussies on course for a win.
But rather than their batting, it was Australia's bowling and fielding that really won them the game. Having won the toss, skipper Jodie Fields put the Lankans in to bat first and saw her bowlers reduce them to 41-4 in just 15.5 overs. She opted for a very attacking approach, placing close catching fielders and it worked wonders.
Standout performers for Sri Lanka were Deepika Rasangika's 43 (77 balls, 7x4) and Dilani Manodara's 21 (46 balls, 4x4) were the only major contributions to the Lankan total, before they folded for 131 runs in 45.2 overs.
In an unlikely turn of events, today's match saw a spinner (rather than a pacer) take the most wickets in the match, as Erin Osbourne finished with figures of 3/9. Six of her 10 overs were maidens.
The off-spinner shared the credit with the pacers: "Seamers did brilliantly so that I could come in and do the damage."
Megan Schutt and Lisa Sthalekar chipped in with a couple wickets each.
After the game, SL skipper Shashikala again rued her team's failure to get enough runs on the board: "Our batters are not continuously performing. Whenever we've won, our batting has been good. Today has been a repeat performance - like the New Zealand match. Against South Africa, we'll depend on our batters again."
Fields said that the Aussies were using their strong points to their advantage: "We pride ourselves on being one of the best fielding sides out there and are constantly looking to improve. As for the attacking field, a lot of their boundaries were genuine edges, so there was no point in placing deep fielders. I prefer that sort of an approach."
Since Australia are guaranteed to play in the final, Fields admits that the game against West Indies will be great practice before the big clash: "Whoever plays against West Indies, it will be great practice before the final. Hopefully Elysse Perry will be fine for that game.
First Published On : Feb 10, 2013 15:56 IST