Cricket lovers couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday than January 19, 2014, which brought a plethora of interesting matches in shorter formats of game. First up was a day/night game, played at MCG between Australian and English women of the ongoing Women’s Ashes Series. The second game was the first ODI day/night game between touring Indians and New Zealand at Napier’s Mclean Park. The third Sunday match at SCG was the third ODI, a crunch game in the series between Australia and England, after Australia had already won the first two games at MCG and Gabba. In Sunday’s other cricketing actions, Indian and Sri Lankan women played their first ODI at Visakhapatnam; Pakistan women played two back-to-back matches, in the PCB sponsored tri-series T20 women’s tournament at West-End Park International Stadium, at Doha, Qatar; the first against South Africa and the second against Ireland.
In the Women’s Ashes game, Australia batted first after winning the toss and set a rather easy target for England of scoring 210 in the allotted 50 overs. Australia lost just three wickets but when the third wicket fell at 68, they had already consumed 25 overs. The run-rate of less than 3 per over at that stage was not enough for Alex Blackwell and Ellyse Perry to build the innings with a high asking rate, although no further wickets were lost. Blackwell and Perry remained unbeaten on 82 and 65 respectively. When the English women batted, they spread the scoring evenly, all through the game. Skipper Edwards’ was the third wicket to fall. Incidentally, like Australia, England also lost 3 wickets for 68, but Edwards did the bulk of scoring to finish at 41. Thereafter, Arran Brindle and Lydia Greenway put their heads down and carried the innings through to the end to give England a 7-wicket victory and give England 2 points. With the test match win already in their bag, England go up 8-0 in the women’s version of the Ashes Series.
At Napier India lost the first ODI, mainly because of yet another poor performance from their bowlers. Shami, Jadeja and Ishant Sharma were hammered for 189 runs in their combined 27 overs. Corey Andersen, who holds the record for the fastest ODI hundred, hammered unbeaten 68 from 40 balls and Luke Ronchi played an 18-ball cameo to score 30 runs in the closing stages, as New Zealand finished at 292/7. When India began, they quickly lost Rohit Sharma. Wickets kept falling and in 28.2 overs India could only make 129/4. At this stage, Kohli and Dhoni raised India’s hopes as the two of them built a solid and brisk 95-run fifth wicket stand. At 224, Dhoni succumbed to a Mitchell McClenaghan bouncer and once Dhoni got out, India lost the remaining wickets for just 44 runs. Kohli was the lone ranger, whose fine century was wasted as New Zealand won the game by 24 runs.
At the SCG, England batted first in a lackluster performance, scoring 243/9 in 50 overs. This was in sharp contrast to the game they played at the Gabba. The target was too easy for Australia and they didn’t make any cardinal errors. Even after Finch was out, Warner, Marsh, Clarke and Haddin came up with useful scores to overhaul England’s total. Australia won by 7 wickets with 60 balls remaining. They have now taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the ODI series and could be eying for another whitewash.
In Vishakhapatnam, India bowled out Sri Lanka for 76 in 39.3 overs, thanks to an amazing bowling by Gouher Sultana, who returned the match figures of 8-4-4-4. Earlier Jhulan Goswami struck initial blows to take 2/16 and the 18-year old debutant from Bijapur, Karnataka, Rajeshwari Gayakwad polished the Sri Lankan tail with figures of 7.3-3-11-2. Indian women reached the victory target of 77 in 32.3 overs with skipper Mithali Raj being the top-scorer at 34 not out.
In Doha’s first T20 game of the tri-series, Pakistani girls dominated South Africans and restricted them to 64/8 in 20 overs. The target of 65 was so modest that Pakistan won the game with 6 overs remaining. The Pakistan women had only a couple of hour’s rest, before they took the field again for the second game of tri-series against Ireland. After winning the toss, Ireland put Pakistan in. The Pak girls couldn’t maintain the tempo of their first match and lost two quick wickets. Later, however, they recovered and finished their 20 overs with 97/4. This score was not enough in the end, as the spirited Irish women scored 98/4 and won the game by 6 wickets with two balls remaining.