Australia and England made emphatic statements with convincing wins in a Women’s T20 World Cup double-header at Boland Park on Saturday.
Defending champions Australia crushed New Zealand by 97 runs, while England made light of a challenging target as they raced to a seven-wicket win over the West Indies with 5.3 overs to spare.
England’s bowling and fielding was some way below perfection in 38°C heat as West Indies scored 135-7.
But their batters attacked the West Indian bowlers with a formidable display of power and aggression.
Opener Sophia Dunkley pounded 34 off 18 balls before Nat Sciver-Brunt (40*) and skipper Heather Knight (32*) completed the win with an unbeaten fourth-wicket partnership of 67 off 43 balls.
“That’s exactly what we want to do,” said Knight. “We want to be fearless and take the game on – and entertain as well. We want to try to go hard up front and today was a big step to do that in a big tournament.”
It was measure of England’s superiority that West Indies fast bowler Chinelle Henry felt that her team had shown enough improvement on recent performances to feel confident going into their next match against India in Cape Town on Wednesday.
“If we play our game against India the way we did today we definitely can beat them,” said Henry.
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If England were impressive, Australia were even more so as they shone in all departments.
They overcame tricky batting conditions on a pitch showing signs of wear to make 173-9, the highest total of the first two days of the tournament.
Alyssa Healy top-scored with 55 off 38 balls with skipper Meg Lanning making 41 and Elysse Perry hitting 40, an innings which included two sixes.
Then they bowled out New Zealand for 76, with off-spinner Ash Gardner using helpful conditions to take 5-12.
Australia were already well on the way to victory when Gardner came into the attack.
Megan Schutt dismissed Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine, New Zealand’s most experienced batters, in the first over, while Darcie Brown looked menacing and bowled at high pace.
Australia also looked by far the most athletic and aggressive fielding outfit of the six teams on display over the first two days.
Lanning said she wanted her team to improve as the tournament progressed.
“I’m really happy,” said Lanning. “We were not really sure what to expect from the conditions. Hopefully we are going to get better through the tournament.”
Player of the Match Gardner said the Australians were comfortable with their reputation as the best team in women’s cricket.
“It’s something we speak about. We know that you always have to show up for each match.”
New Zealand captain Devine said her team’s performance was “really disappointing”.
New Zealand meet hosts South Africa in their next match at the same venue on Monday.
With both teams having already been beaten it shapes up as a contest which could effectively eliminate the losers.
“We need to figure out what we can from the wicket and the conditions,” said Devine.
© Agence France-Presse