If there was one cricketing nation you could count on to win gold at the Commonwealth Games, it was the Australian women's team. They have been on the rampage on the world scene for a while, winning the Ashes and the Twenty20 and 50-over format World Cups, and those successes set Mel Lanning's side up for an incredible quadruple in Birmingham.
Standing in the way of Australia securing gold was India, who were sure to present a big challenge for Lanning and her players. Beth Mooney managed to score 61, which was pivotal in Australia, reaching 161-8 from their 20 overs. And, at one point, India looked like they could pull it off when Harmanpreet Kaur hit 65. But, after she was dismissed, it all fell apart, and the Indians were all out for 152, handing victory and gold to Australia.
In what was the first time that women’s cricket has ever been played as part of the Commonwealth Games, Australia were sweating on batter Tahlia McGrath, who had tested positive for Covid-19 but was cleared to play. And, even though Alyssa Healy fell for seven early, Australia then races to a score of 83-1 after the first ten overs. But, the Aussies suffered a setback when captain Lanning was dismissed for thirty-six.
It was at this point that Mooney stepped up and anchored the innings from there on in, scoring 61 from 41 balls. She was eventually caught by Deepti Sharma, who pulled off a fantastic one-handed catch, but the damage was already done, and Australia were looking like it was they who would run out as winners.
When India got their reply underway, they found themselves 22-2 and the signs weren’t promising. However, the partnership of captain Harmanpreet and Jemimah Rodrigues delivered 96, and the upset was back on the cards. This was reinforced by India matching Australia’s scoring rate heading into the 15th over, and India started to believe they were going to pull off the comeback.
However, when Hermanpreet and Rodrigues fell, so did all hopes for India, as it started somewhat of a collapse. With two wickets left, India needed 11 runs to win. But, when Meghna Singh and Yastika Bhata were run out and trapped lbw, respectively, the gold was secured for Australia and the jubilant scenes of celebrations began.
There was also disappointment in the England camp, as they lost by eight wickets to New Zealand in the battle for bronze. Katherine Brunt, England’s veteran fast bowler, said, “It felt like the actual whole country was behind us. We’re just sad we let them down. We couldn’t quite do it.” New Zealand, India and Australia all leave Birmingham with medals, but it will be disappointing for England not to have placed on the podium on home soil. Meanwhile, Australia continues to dominate the women's game, and 2022 may be their most successful year yet.