14/04/2024

Australia swept the ODI series against Pakistan after a 101-run win on Saturday. Picture: Australian Women's Cricket Team / Facebook

The Australian Women’s Cricket Team has swept its ODI series against Pakistan in convincing fashion after posting a dominant 101-run win at North Sydney Oval on Saturday.

A brilliant 133-run knock from Beth Mooney helped the hosts amass a daunting 9-336 total, with Pakistan (7-235) lacking the needed firepower to chase it down.

The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the five key takeaways from the third and final ODI of the Women’s series between Australia and Pakistan.

Fatima ends Litchfield’s unbeaten run

Phoebe Litchfield’s dream start to her ODI career didn’t continue at North Sydney Oval after she was undone by a peach of a delivery from Fatima Sana.

The 19-year-old exceeded all the high expectations surrounding her after she posted scores of 67* and 78* in the first two games against Pakistan. But on Saturday she faced a new challenge when Fatima and Diana Baig combined for a trying 10-over spell to start the match.

Litchfield survived when Diana put down a tough chance, but she wasn’t so lucky the next over after a seed from Fatima clipped her off stump. It was just reward for the right-armer, who had been building pressure and creating chances throughout her spell with several searing deliveries.

It meant Litchfield was out for the first time in her ODI career and had to settle for finally having an average, a mere 154 (the highest in women’s ODIs by 60 runs). It’s fair to assume that even when Alyssa Healy returns from injury, Australia will have to find a place in its line-up for the talented teenager.

Magnificent Mooney tons up with incredible knock

Beth Mooney brought up her third ODI century in style on Saturday after treating North Sydney Oval to a masterful free-hitting display.

The wicketkeeper scored a blistering 133 off just 105 balls after a slow start to quickly take the game away from Pakistan.

Mooney steadily built into her innings, but started to fire when the spinners were brought in. She had scored just 16 runs off 37 balls when she hit her first boundary of the match, a four in the 15th over.

From there it was a commanding knock from the left-hander, who piled on 117 runs from just 68 balls in a fluent but powerful onslaught. By the end of her innings she was dispatching balls outside the ground when she punished Tuba Hassan with three consecutive sixes in the 35th over.

But she was undone by Nida Dar in the next over, bringing an end to an innings that bested her previous highest ODI score by eight runs.

Meg Lanning’s role (72 off 70 balls) in Mooney’s knock was crucial as well. While Mooney was finding her feet during the first 15 overs, her skipper was aggressive from the first ball. Lanning got the run rate turning over, allowing her batting partner to settle before launching.

Improved batting and bowling not enough for Pakistan

Saturday’s game was an improved performance from Pakistan with bat and ball, but all it showed was the gap in talent between it and Australia.

Bismah Maroof’s decision to field after winning the toss gave her bowlers their first real crack this series, after only having totals of 160 and 125 to defend in the previous two games. Pakistan allowed Australia to post its fourth-highest total in a women’s ODI, but also almost bowled the hosts out.

The team got off to a terrific start, with the combination of Fatima and Diana claiming the wicket of Litchfield and only allowing 35 runs during the powerplay. But Pakistan’s lack of pace options, besides from that duo, was exposed after the 10-over mark, which allowed Mooney and Lanning to score freely.

Even after Mooney was dismissed, it seemed like Australia could potentially post a historic total considering the batting depth it still had in the sheds. But Pakistan rallied during the final 14 overs to claim six wickets and keep Australia to under 350 runs, which was looking likely earlier in the innings.

The dangerous middle-order trio of Tahlia McGrath, Ashleigh Gardner and Annabel Sutherland all threatened to explode, but were dismissed before they could take over the game.

When it came to the second innings, Pakistan put on its best batting performance for the series with only two players failing to reach double figures, however it became clear that while the visitors had the resolve to bat through the innings and they didn’t have the power to chase down Australia’s massive score.

While it was another convincing defeat, Pakistan would take heart from the fact that it posted a respectful 235 total and stood up against Australia’s fearsome bowling attack.

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How late can you pull out of your batting stance?

The cricketing world has a new debate, with Nida Dar raising the question of how late a batter can pull out of their stance. The right-hander nonchalantly made a very late move away from her crease while facing McGrath in the 27th over.

It was so late in fact that McGrath had bowled her delivery, which cannoned into the stumps. But Dar was allowed to remain at the crease after umpire Claire Polosak signalled a dead ball.

McGrath and the Australians didn’t protest the decision, with Dar making 25 more runs before being removed by Annabel Sutherland in the 35th over.

While the incident wasn’t important in deciding the result, it has created plenty of conjecture in the fallout from the match. Dar had assumed her stance, tapped her bat on the ground and didn’t pull out until after the ball had left McGarth’s hand.

She arguably should have been out, with the situation serving as an interesting case study for any similar incidents in the future.

Gardner delivers for loose Australian attack

While Saturday’s game wasn’t the most dominant display from Australia’s bowling attack, they still comfortably defended the side’s 336-run total.

The bowlers set up the wins for the hosts in the previous two games this series, where they quickly took wickets and left small targets for the batters to chase down but Pakistan’s batters didn’t fall as easily at North Sydney Oval. While they never threatened the required total, they scored fluently and put more value on their wicket.

The only bowler they couldn’t pick though was Gardner, who was easily the best of the bunch for Australia.

The off-spinner was the only Australian to bowl her full allotment of 10 overs, taking three wickets for just 30 runs.

She made the important breakthrough of Sidra Amin halfway through the innings, before later dispatching Bismah Maroof and Ayesha Naseem in the same over.

Gardner importantly also only bowled one wide, which continued to be an issue for Australia on Saturday.

The hosts bowled 25 wides, bringing their series total of extras to 81 runs. It’s an issue Australia’s bowlers will need to clean up in preparation for future games.

Australia and Pakistan will now face off in a series of three T20Is ahead of next month’s Women’s T20 World Cup. The first match is on Tuesday at North Sydney Oval at 1.45pm ADET.

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