A stunning century from Elyse Villani and an inspired performance in the field has helped Australia to a dominant 103-run win in their ICC Women’s World Cup warm-up clash against South Africa.
Coming to the crease in the fourth over with Australia in trouble at 3-40, Villani shared a 164-run fourth-wicket stand with Ellyse Perry (67), flaying the Proteas bowling attack to set up a commanding total of 5-324.
Uncapped speedster Belinda Vakarewa then led the way with the ball as South Africa were bowled out for 221 in the 50th over.
Quick single: Gardner plants seeds for spin competition
Sent in to bat by the Proteas on an overcast morning in the village of Oakham, an hour to the east of Leicester, Australian openers Beth Mooney and Nicole Bolton made a watchful start against threatening new-ball pair Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail.
But a change in the attack brought immediate results for South Africa, as Ayabonga Khaka frustrated Beth Mooney with five dot balls before bowling the Queenslander for 24 (26).
Khaka then captured the big wicket of Australian skipper Meg Lanning for a seven-ball duck, striking again two balls later when Nicole Bolton’s 33-ball stay at the crease came to an end on 14.
Under pressure, Villani and Perry refused to be intimidated by a fired-up Proteas bowling attack, slowly building the Australian run rate as they batted through the next 26 overs.
With Villani the aggressor, they passed fifty apiece in quick succession, before a rare error from Perry saw the allrounder run out on 67 (76), ending an innings that featured six boundaries and two sixes.
Villani carried on unabated, bringing up three figures for the first time in Australian colours and clearing the rope on seven occasions before eventually being bowled by Kapp in the 47th over.
Quick single: WWC17 preview: India
Australia had spoken regularly about building on strong platforms during the final 10 overs in the lead-up to the game and – having failed in that endeavor against New Zealand last week – continued to bat like a team possessed after Villani’s dismissal.
Alex Blackwell (32no off 25) and Alyssa Healy (25no off 12) added 54 runs from the final 21 deliveries – helped by some wayward South African bowling, which produced 25 extras - to see Australia to 5-324, with a total of 11 sixes scored by Lanning’s team.
South Africa’s reply started on a disastrous note with Lizelle Lee run out for a diamond duck on the second ball of the innings, before left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen struck to remove fellow opener Andre Steyn for 12, leaving the Proteas 2-37.
The large total was never going to be easy to chase down, but economical bowling from the Australian attack made it all the harder for the South Africans, who lost regular wickets as the run rate drifted ever higher.
Vakarewa bowled superbly throughout her 10 overs, rewarded with the late wickets of Sune Luus and Ismail to finish with 2-34, while fellow uncapped quick Sarah Aley also impressed, taking 1-37. She wasn’t brought on until the 22nd over but took just five balls to remove Chloe Tryon.
Spinners Jonassen (3-29 off 9) and Ashleigh Gardner (1-15 off 3.3) were economical, while Perry captured the prized wicket of Kapp, caught and bowled, for one.
Quick single: Kumble steps down as India coach
While the match isn’t an official ODI, Australia’s performance with the bat is an ominous sign for the tournament ahead. The team has passed 300 just four times in ODIs, the last back in 2012.
Australia fielded 14 players in the warm-up – which allowed teams to use as many squad members as desired – with only Amanda-Jade Wellington sitting out due to a finger injury suffered during training.
Lanning’s team will meet Pakistan in their second and final warm-up at Leicester’s Grace Rd on Thursday.
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