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Cricket - 17. March 2009.

Solid win keeps Cup hopes alive



The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars kept their ICC Women’s World Cup hopes alive with a solid 107-run win over Pakistan at Bankstown Oval today.


With captain Karen Rolton, all-rounder Lisa Sthalekar and opening bowler Emma Sampson given the match off, a new-look Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars line-up was far too strong for Pakistan. Batting first, Australia made 6-229 before dismissing Pakistan for 122 in the 46th over.


The win draws the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars level in equal second position with India and New Zealand behind England on the World Cup points table, but the other three teams will have a chance to press their advantage in tomorrow’s round of matches.


“We had a few people contributing with the bat all throughout the order which was a good change from the others games we’ve had. We were more disciplined with the ball and hit the right areas which made it easier to set the right fields,” stand-in Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars captain, Alex Blackwell, said after the win.


“We’re a team that’s more than capable of beating England and we’re very confident that we can do that.


“We’re just concentrating on winning our games well and letting rest take care of it itself. We can’t really control it but we know that there is a sliver of hope that we can make the final.”


Australia’s innings was built around the top three of Shelley Nitschke (56 from 64 balls), Leah Poulton (47 from 86) and Lauren Ebsary (51 from 71).


Nitschke and Poulton’s 100-run opening stand set up the total with the pair playing steadily until the first drinks break. After the break they began to accelerate the scoring with player-of-the-match Nitschke particularly effective as 39 runs were added from 30 balls to boost the score to 0-98 after 22 overs.


The partnership ended with Nitschke bowled by Sana Mir for 56. Poulton fell in a similar manner four overs later before Blackwell was run out for three as Australia lost 3-30 in 45 balls to lose some of its momentum.


While Mir’s double breakthrough was a boost for Pakistan, she then missed two vital caught and bowled opportunities from Ebsary soon after. The let-offs proved costly as Ebsary anchored a valuable 69-run stand with Jodie Fields to restore stability and take the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars to 3-199 with five overs remaining.


Fields was particularly effective when Australia’s took its batting powerplay, contributing 24 runs before being run out from a direct hit by Asmavia Iqbal.


After Ebsary’s exit, Ellyse Perry and Leonie Coleman were busy and took the score to 6-229 at the close of the innings.


Pakistan began its chase aggressively and hit 16 from the opening two overs before Rene Farrell bowled Nain Abidi in the third over with the score on 19. Number three Asmavia continued Pakistan’s solid start but her dismissal for 32 came in the middle of a Pakistan batting collapse in which they lost 6-24.


The match looked headed for a quick conclusion at 7-89 but Urooj Mumtaz and Javeria Khan offered some late resistance to delay the inevitable. The wickets were shared around the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars bowlers but Perry (2-16), Rene Farrell (2-22) and Leah Poulton (2-9) were the multiple wicket-takers.


“They bowled reasonably well early so we didn’t away to the biggest start ever but to build that platform and allow the other girls a bit of freedom when they came out set us up for a pretty good score,” Nitschke said.


“We probably haven’t won as convincingly as we would have liked in some of the other games so to win like that today was really good for us as a team. Now we’re just trying to stay positive, play good cricket and keep winning.”


The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars’ final Super Six stage match is against England at North Sydney Oval on Thursday. The perimeter of North Sydney Oval will be painted pink for the match as part of the day’s fundraising for the McGrath Foundation.


McGrath Foundation volunteers will also be selling pink wristbands and collecting donations throughout the day. Almost 1300 school children from around Sydney will attend the match, including groups from St Marys North, Lalor Park, Bondi Beach, Katoomba and St Mary’s North Sydney Primary Schools, St Madelines Kenthurst, Erskine Park High, Crookwell High School and Cheltenham Girls School.


In tomorrow’s ICC Women’s World Cup matches, India meets New Zealand at North Sydney Oval while England can secure a place in Sunday’s final with a win against West Indies at Drummoyne Oval.


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