Leg-spinner Georgia Wareham made a successful return to international cricket with a Player of the Match performance for Australia against Bangladesh at St George’s Park in Gqeberha on Tuesday.
Wareham took 3-20 as Bangladesh were restricted to 107-7 despite a half-century by captain Nigar Sultana.
Australia won by eight wickets, with captain Meg Lanning making 48*.
“It was pretty tough,” said Wareham, who suffered a left knee cruciate ligament injury in October 2021 and had a race against time to be fit for the current tournament.
“I missed the 50-overs World Cup, the Ashes and the Commonwealth Games.
“To come out on the other side I am pretty thankful for those people who helped me. Thanks to the selectors for backing me despite me not having played any cricket leading up to the World Cup.”
Lanning was delighted to have Wareham back and in form. “She’s had a long way back after a serious injury. She’s a game changer.”
The initial damage was done by fast bowler Darcie Brown, who took two early wickets.
Nigar scored 57 for Bangladesh but lacked support. She came to the crease after Brown had reduced Bangladesh to 11-2 in the fourth over and was the mainstay of the innings until the penultimate over when she lofted a catch to cover off off-spinner Ash Gardner.
Nigar hit a six off leg-spinner Alana King and seven fours in a 50-ball innings but none of her teammates could make more than Shorna Akter’s 12 against the varied attack of the defending champions.
“We need to work on our batting,” said Nigar. “We didn’t get as many boundaries as we wanted in the last five overs.”
But Nigar praised the Bangladesh bowlers, who didn’t allow Australia to race to victory. It took the champions until the 19th over to seal their second successive win.
Beth Mooney failed for the second successive match, caught at slip off 18-year-old fast bowler Marufa Akter for two. Alyssa Healy (37) and captain Meg Lanning (48*) put on 69 for the second wicket but failed to dominate against dogged Bangladesh bowling and fielding.
Marufa, who took 3-23 against Sri Lanka on Sunday, had another impressive outing, taking 1-18 in her four overs.
“She’s so young and she has so much talent,” said Nigar. “I am really confident with our bowlers.”
It was the first tournament match to be played in Gqeberha and the first of three to be played by Australia in the Eastern Cape city.