The score: Australia 8-290 (Perry 66, Healy 63no, Villani 59, Sana 3-49) defeated Pakistan 131 (Mir 45, Beams 3-23, Gardner 3-28) by 159 runs
The match in a tweet: That’s four from four! Aley makes a debut to remember as Australia stroll to a big win over Pakistan
The heroes: Runs had been incredibly hard to come by for Australia’s top four during the first 20 overs, but Elyse Villani appeared to be batting on a different wicket when she got off the mark with a powerfully struck six over long on. Her innings wasn’t without its scares – a chance on the boundary missed, a shy at the stumps wide of the mark – but she played some superb shots on her way to a 34-ball half-century, clearing the rope four times on her way to the second fastest World Cup fifty and the quickest by an Australian. Unfortunately for Villani and Australia, her entertaining knock came to an end soon after on 59 (40), bowled by Marina Iqbal. Then, when a late-innings lift was needed, Alyssa Healy stepped up powering nine boundaries and one six on her way to a career-high 63no. It was only the second half-century of Healy’s ODI career and her first since 2012.
The anchor: It’s not often Ellyse Perry comes to the crease in the opening over of an ODI. But the allrounder, elevated to No.3 in the absence of Meg Lanning, faced the fourth ball of the match after the departure of Beth Mooney. Runs never flowed freely from Perry’s bat, but she never looked like being dislodged as she anchored the Australian innings, bringing up her 20th half-century and her second of the tournament from 81 deliveries. The stage was set for the allrounder to bat through the innings and reach that elusive international century, but just when Perry started to show some intent, producing a lovely drive to the boundary in the 41st over, she was well-caught by Pakistan captain Sana Mir on 66 (97).
The support cast: Pakistan’s batters have struggled throughout this tournament and 290 was always going to be out of reach against a strong Australian bowling attack. Jess Jonassen struck in the second over and regular wickets fell as the Pakistan batters were unable to replicate the same attacking approach of their bowlers. Australia would have preferred to bowl Pakistan out and end proceedings much earlier, but Kristen Beams bowled well to pick up three wickets, finishing with figures of 3-23 from her nine overs, as did Gardner (3-28 off nine), while Aley (2-29 off 10) and Jonassen (1-12 off 10) were the other wicket takers.
The consolation effort: Pakistan captain Sana Mir promised her bowlers would be aggressive and attack the Australian batters, and how they delivered. Sent into the field, the Pakistan bowlers quickly gained the ascendancy, with Asmavia Iqbal Khokhar capturing the wicket of Beth Mooney three balls into the Australian innings. Frustration mounted as the Australians scored just seven runs from the first five overs and while Bolton survived when dropped by wicketkeeper Sidra Nawraz on two, there was no third chance for the Western Australian who only added one run to her tally before being trapped lbw on 2 (30), leaving Australia 2-7. Asmavia and Diana Baig barely gave Australia an inch during the opening power play, which saw just 18 runs scored. Sana (3-49) and Asmavia (1-27) were particularly impressive with the ball, although several dropped catches and misfields let down the efforts of the bowlers, while the Pakistan captain backed up with the bat, scoring a fighting 45 (89).
The debutant: Finally, finally, finally, it was Sarah Aley’s time. A mere 12 years after making her domestic debut, the 33-year-old became the third oldest woman to make an ODI debut for Australia on Wednesday. Her teammates were delighted and after Aley provided some late fireworks in Australia’s batting innings, finding the boundary twice in an unbeaten 15 off 8. And while her debut was more than a decade in the making, it took her just two balls to claim her first international wicket, Ayesha Zafar caught by Villani. And didn’t she love it! Add to that a catch and a second wicket and Aley’s maiden ODI was one to remember.
The new skipper: With captain Lanning ruled out of the game after aggravating a chronic shoulder injury, Australia surprised many by naming NSW batter Rachael Haynes – who had yet to play a game in the tournament – as stand-in skipper. Haynes was chosen over vice-captain Alex Blackwell and scored a patient 28 (46) before being caught behind, although her reaction to the dismissal did raise questions about whether or not she hit it. Australia made three changes for the game, with Megan Schutt rested and Aley brought in for her international debut, and leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington swapped for fellow wrist spinner Beams.
The next stop: Australia meet England in probably the most anticipated clash of the tournament to date in Bristol on Sunday. Pakistan will continue to hunt for their third win of the tournament against New Zealand in Taunton on Saturday.
Australia XI: Bolton, Mooney, Perry, Haynes (c), Villani, Blackwell, Healy (wk), Jonassen, Gardner, Aley, Beams
Pakistan XI: Nahidi, Zafar, Iqbal, Abidi, Javed, Khokhar, Mir, Nawaz, Sundhu, Yousaf, Baig
Women's World Cup 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.