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The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars have reasserted their position as the top women’s Twenty20 team in the world with a commanding win over Pakistan in the first match of their T20I series at the Gold Coast District Cricket Club.
A player-of-the-match performance from Erin Osborne and an imperious batting display from Elyse Villani sealed the nine-wicket victory, with Pakistan’s 92-run total chased down with 45 balls to spare.
After missing out on the one-day series, Villani must have felt she had a point to prove, blasting 58 from just 40 balls with eight boundaries.
Sunshine and a light breeze greeted the sides before play, with the Australians looking to build on the good form they carried over from the one-day series in Brisbane.
Coming off four matches on the progressively slowing Redlands Cricket Ground pitch, touring captain Sana Mir chose to bat first after winning the toss on what looked to be a harder, faster Gold Coast wicket.
The Pakistan openers started in circumspect fashion, with deft touch and a few slices of luck seeing the tourists reach 30 without loss after seven overs.
But that’s when the wheels started to fall off for the eighth-ranked women's T20 side.
Osborne held on to a super caught-and-bowled chance to send Marina Iqbal on her way for 22 before fellow opener Javeria Khan chipped a simple catch off Sarah Coyte’s seamers to captain Meg Lanning at mid-on to leave the tourists 2-54 in the 11th over.
After leading her side with the bat throughout the ODI series, Bismah Maroof was undone by the nagging line and length of Gold Coast product Delissa Kimmince; the pint-sized left-hander bowled attempting to ramp the quick over fine leg.
It was all downhill for Pakistan from there, with the next seven wickets falling for 27 runs and the final five batters managing just five of those between them.
Coyte played a major role in the tail’s downfall, with the number four-ranked T20I bowler narrowly missing out on a hat-trick to finish with 3-9 off three overs.
“(Coyte) always does the job for our team,” Osborne said after match.
“She comes on at the end and bowls full and straight and is able to execute consistently.
“She really restricts teams in the back-end of the overs.”
Despite picking up career best figures of 4-19, Osborne was full of praise for the rest of the world champion bowling line-up.
“I think I’m reaping the rewards from the bowlers up front,” the 25-year-old allrounder said.
“Jess Jonassen and Rene Farrell bowled exceptionally well early on and allowed me to come on (later) and pick up a few wickets.”
With 92 the score to beat, Villani and Jonassen began the chase in domineering fashion, with the pair passing 50 inside seven overs.
Villani was particularly punishing of anything short or wide, the Victorian entertaining a small but enthusiastic crowd with boundaries to all corners.
The departure of Jonassen, who smashed a full toss straight to deep mid-wicket for 19, provided some relief for a rattled Pakistan attack.
But the respite was short lived, with back-to-back Villani boundaries through mid-wicket and a superb cut-shot from Lanning seeing the Southern Stars race ever closer to their diminutive target.
With her captain giving her plenty of the strike, Villani reached fifty in just 35 balls before, fittingly, securing the nine-wicket win with a lofted drive over cover.
“It’s great having Elyse back in the team,” Osborne said of Villani.
“Not just what she can do on the field, but she creates a wonderful atmosphere for us.
“I’m just so happy that she’s here performing really well.”
The second match of the T20I series will be played at the Gold Coast District Cricket Ground on Sunday and you can watch every ball LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on cricket.com.au.
Great start to T20 series vs Pakistan today. Superb performances from Erin Osborne and @ElyseVillani + rest of the team! 2nd game tomorrow!— Alyssa Healy (@ahealy77) August 30, 2014