Important contributions from captain Karen Rolton and opener Shelley Nitschke have helped get the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars’ ICC Women’s World Cup campaign back on track in a 61-run win against South Africa in Newcastle today.
Rolton (96 not out) and Nitschke’s (87) innings were the highlights of the closer-than-expected result which moves the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars into second place on the Group A points table behind New Zealand.
“It was a good fight for the girls and I thought South Africa batted well. We got off to a bit of a slow start and I would have liked a few more runs early on but to the South African girls’ credit they bowled well,” Rolton said.
“It’s tough when you don’t play a team for four years. We haven’t played South Africa since the last World Cup in 2005 and even then it was only once.”
“It was good to middle a few when I came out to bat. We’ve been working hard to try and get some partnerships going and some people batting through and making runs because we haven’t been able to do that.
“I’m a little bit disappointed with the way we bowled and that’s something we can work on before our next match against West Indies.”
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Rolton was left agonisingly close to a record ninth one-day international century when Australia’s innings closed at 4-258, its highest against South Africa. In reply, South Africa recorded its highest score against Australia before being bowled out for 197 in the 50th over.
Rolton looked certain to reach three figures in the final over of Australia’s innings – and become the most prolific century-maker in women’s one-day cricket – but couldn’t get enough strike to convert her effort into a second hundred against South Africa.
She started the final over on 95 and after a single from the first ball was unable to get back on strike for the remaining five balls. Her 87-ball innings included 13 boundaries and was complemented by Nitschke’s 87 from 94 balls at the top of the order.
The pair added 77 for the second wicket, a partnership which was responsible for increasing the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars’ scoring after South Africa’s Ashlyn Kilowan and spinner Charlize van der Westhuizen held Australia to 22 from the opening 10 overs.
Rolton’s arrival at the crease in the 21st over boosted the run rate and despite Nitschke’s departure 17 runs short of her first international century, the most capped woman in one-day cricket continued to attack and guide the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars to 4-258.
South Africa vice-captain Alicia Smith was impressive with ball, taking 3-42 in an effort that included a wicket-maiden in the 46th over, the first of Australia’s batting powerplay.
The South Africa innings began unsteadily when the opening wicket fell in the fourth over with Jessica Cameron taking a low diving catch at second slip to dismiss Claire Terblanche (2) off the bowling of Rene Farrell.
Trisha Chetty and Cri-Zelda Brits then played well, finding the gaps and taking the score past 50 in the 12th over. The pair’s 50-run partnership came in the next over off 52 balls as they forced Rolton into rotating her bowlers.
With Chetty and Brits in control, Rolton’s tactic of introducing spin from both ends had the desired result and in the five overs before the drinks break, Erin Osborne and Lisa Sthalekar combined to stem the flow of runs and put the pressure back on the South Africa pair.
The pressure eventually brought its reward in the 25th over with Sthalekar dismissing Brits for 36 to end her 82-run stand with Chetty. Soon after reaching her first one-day international half century, Chetty’s entertaining knock (58 from 78 balls) also came to an end when Emma Sampson forced a loose stroke and Alex Blackwell accepted an easy catch at mid-off.
The South Africa resistance ended in the space of six balls with Alica Smith (19) and Mignon de Preez (37) dismissed in quick succession to reduce South Africa to 5-169.
Nitschke took some late wickets to finish with 3-43 and claim the player of the match award, while Rene Farrel was the other multiple wicket-taker with 2-30.
In other ICC Women’s World Cup matches today, England crushed India by nine wickets while New Zealand defeated West Indies by 56 runs.
Australia’s next match at the ICC Women’s World Cup is against West Indies at Drummoyne Oval in Sydney on Thursday. The team will travel to Sydney tomorrow.