WELLINGTON: Unbeaten Australia has entered the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup semi-finals on the back of seven straight wins following a five-wicket triumph over a gallant Bangladesh on Friday.
In a match that was reduced to 43 overs per side due to overnight rain at Basin Reserve, Australia overcame an early scare from an inspired Salma Khatun (3/23) to successfully chase down Bangladesh’s modest total of 135/6 with more than 10 overs remaining.
Khatun single-handedly took out Australia’s top order to reduce the tournament favourites to 26/3 in reply and it took the experienced head of the ever-reliable Beth Mooney (66*) to guide the run chase home.
The Bangladesh spinner had Alyssa Healy caught in the deep for 15 and then produced a ripper to get the big wicket of Australia captain Meg Lanning for a duck on her 30th birthday.
Rachael Haynes (7) and Tahlia McGrath (3) followed shortly after as Australia felt the pressure to crumble to 41/4 and Bangladesh began to dream.
All-rounder Ashleigh Gardner came and went for a quickfire 13, but Mooney and Annabel Sutherland (26*) held their nerves to help Australia cruise home.
The victory means Australia finishes the group stage of the tournament undefeated and on top of the standings, while Bangladesh can take solace from their one win over Pakistan and a host of competitive showings.
Earlier in the day, Lata Mondal top-scored for Bangladesh with an excellent 33 as the Asian side struggled to cope with the cold and windy conditions at the ground and Australia’s plethora of quality spinners.
Bangladesh actually made a good start to their innings, with Murshida Khatun (12) and Sharmin Akhter (24) able to safely negotiate an Australia seam attack missing star quick Ellyse Perry because of injury.
The pair took the score along to 33 without too much trouble, but Gardner (2/23) was introduced to the attack and she struck to dismiss Khatun before the rot set in.
Key batter Fargana Hoque (8) was dismissed by Annabel Sutherland (1/22), before Akhter and skipper Nigar Sultana (7) fell to Jess Jonassen (2/13) in quick succession to leave Bangladesh with a mountain to climb at 62/4.
Rumana Ahmed (15) combined with Mondal for a 33-run stand and Khatun (15*) looked assured at the crease as Bangladesh pushed hard to increase the rate in the late stages of their innings.
But their total was never going to be enough as Mooney showed her class to ensure Australia entered the knockout stages of the tournament with yet another victory.
Bangladesh XI: Murshida Khatun, Sharmin Akter Supta, Fargana Hoque, Nigar Sultana (c), Rumana Ahmed, Lata Mondal, Salma Khatun, Ritu Moni, Fahima Khatun, Nahida Akter, Jahanara Alam
Australia XI: Alyssa Healy, Rachael Haynes, Meg Lanning (c), Beth Mooney, Tahlia McGrath, Ash Gardner, Annabel Sutherland, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Megan Schutt, Darcie Brown.