The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars have ridden their luck all the way to a nail-biting five-wicket win in the second One-Day International against Pakistan at Redlands Cricket Ground.
The win was sealed with three balls to spare, a firm push through point by Alex Blackwell for four enough to pass world number eight Pakistan’s total of 121 after morning rain delays saw the match reduced to a 25-over-a-side affair.
A Southern Stars victory looked unlikely early in their chase, with the world’s top-ranked limited overs side floundering at 3-12 inside eight overs, then 4-48 after 13, with first ODI match-winner Jess Cameron back in the sheds for a quick-fire 26.
With the odds of one of the biggest upsets in women’s cricket history firming, Jess Jonassen joined Blackwell at the crease, the pair quickly elevating the scoring rate towards the required six-and-a-half an over.
Lofted straight drives were the order of the day for the pair, the Pakistan fielders kept busy in the deep as Blackwell and Jonassen’s partnership grew past 50.
Employing spin for much of the middle overs, Pakistan struggled for control, the left-right batting combination working the ball expertly square for singles and twos and putting away the bad balls when they surfaced.
It could all have come so easily undone for the home side however, Jonassen given not out on a stumping appeal when she was on five, only for replays to suggest her foot was still in the air when the bails were removed.
The Queenslander was eventually dismissed for 33 off 26 balls caught and bowled by a diving Sania Khan.
With 13 balls left and 13 runs still to get Erin Osborne came to the crease, defending her first couple of deliveries before a flying edge fine of first slip raced away for four and a pair of singles brought the runs required down to four.
Blackwell eventually got spinner Khan away, the Southern Stars completing one of the great escape acts in recent memory.
Earlier, Jonassen proved just as handy with the ball as she would with the bat, picking up career-best figures of 4-15 to help restrict Pakistan to 121 off their allotted 25 overs.
The tourists got their innings off to an aggressive start, some desperate fielding from the Australians the only thing standing between the tourists and a 30-plus opening five overs.
Sarah Coyte snared the day’s first wicket, trapping Marina Iqbal in front for 6, bringing Pakistan’s lone game one half-centurion Bismah Maroof to the crease.
Along with Javeria Khan, Maroof went about dismantling the Australian pace brigade, putting on 70 runs for the second wicket and giving the tourists hope of posting a 150-plus target.
The match was slipping away from the home side when left-arm spinner Jonassen injected herself into the match, floating a full delivery through the defences of Khan to send the opener packing for 46 off 47.
Four balls later, a superb Blackwell dive, stop and direct hit at the keeper’s end shuttered Maroof’s innings on 26 off 21 deliveries.
Jonassen then drew false strokes from Nida Dar and captain Mir before collecting her fourth wicket, Aliya Riaz lbw for four.
Osborne and Megan Schutt cleaned up the Pakistan tail, the Southern Stars completing the first of two big turnarounds for the match.
Today’s win secured an unassailable two-nil lead for the home side heading into the third ODI at Redlands on Tuesday.
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