Australia have cruised to an eight-wicket victory over Pakistan in their final Women’s World Cup warm-up match in Leicester.
After a dominant performance with the ball saw Australia dismiss their rivals for 156 at Grace Road, a speedy half-century from Beth Mooney helped her side chase down their target with 26.4 overs to spare.
Choosing to send Pakistan in on an overcast morning in Leicester, Pakistan openers Ayesha Zafar and Bibi Nahida saw off the opening spells of Ellyse Perry and Megan Schutt before teenage quick Belinda Vakarewa made the first breakthrough in the 12th over, tempting Ayesha (21) into a miscued shot that fell into the safe hands of skipper Meg Lanning.
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Left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen bowled Marina Iqbal for nought the following over, but a spirited half-century from opener Bibi kept the Pakistan scoreboard ticking over, the right-hander taking a particular liking to the bowling of Vakarewa, striking four boundaries from one over on her way to fifty from 54 deliveries.
Off-spinner Ash Gardner ended Bibi’s innings on 51 (57) courtesy of a sharp catch at slip by Alex Blackwell, with veteran Bismah Maroof (39 off 70) the only other batter to make an impact as the Australians ended Pakistan’s innings for 156 in 46.4 overs.
Jonassen continued her good form, taking 3-23 from seven overs, while 33-year-old seamer Sarah Aley did her chances of an Australian debut no harm, taking 4-16 in 7.3 overs.
The Australians then made short work of the chase, reaching 2-159 in 23.2 overs, losing just one wicket, that of Nicole Bolton who took on the role of aggressor early, striking five boundaries before miscuing a shot to gully on 31.
Her departure saw fellow opener Mooney step on the accelerator, finessing the ball through the gaps to reach a half-century from 56 deliveries, reaching the boundary on 10 occasions before retiring on 62 (72).
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Lanning, who was dismissed without scoring in Australia’s warm-up against South Africa in Oakham on Tuesday, took just two deliveries to score her first boundary.
Despite limited time in the middle since arriving in the United Kingdom – she sat out Australia’s first practice game against New Zealand – the world’s best ODI batter looked typically at ease as she stroked 40no from 34.
Mooney’s retirement provided a chance for a short-but-sweet cameo from Rachael Haynes (14no), who struck two fine sixes over mid-wicket.
The warm-up was Australia’s final hit-out before their World Cup opener against West Indies in Taunton on Monday.
The Windies have struggled since arriving on English soil, losing their first warm-up to Pakistan before being rolled for 63 by South Africa on Thursday, but Lanning’s Australian’s will remain wary of the outfit who upset them to claim last year’s World T20 title.
Women's World Cup 2017 Guide
Australia World Cup squad: Sarah Aley, Kristen Beams, Alex Blackwell (vc), Nicole Bolton, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Meg Lanning (c), Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington
Australia's World Cup schedule
View the full tournament schedule here
June 20: Australia v South Africa, Oakham
June 22: Australia v Pakistan, Leicester
June 26: Australia v West Indies, Taunton
June 29: Sri Lanka v Australia, Bristol
July 2: Australia v New Zealand, Bristol
July 5: Pakistan v Australia, Leicester
July 9: England vAustralia, Bristol
July 12: Australia v India, Bristol
July 15: South Africa v Australia, Taunton
July 18: First semi-final, Bristol
July 20: Second semi-final, Derby
July 23: Final, Lord's