Australia have secured a place in the women’s Twenty20 tri-series final after dismantling England’s batting attack to win their Junction Oval clash by 16 runs.
Meg Lanning’s team appeared headed for a third defeat in four matches as they stumbled to 7-132 after being sent in to bat at the Melbourne venue on Sunday.
But that sub-par score proved more than enough, as left-arm spinner Sophie Molineux (3-19) and quick Tayla Vlaeminck (2-18) never allowed the visitors’ run chase to gather momentum.
Allrounder Natalie Sciver’s dismissal to Molineux for 16 triggered a collapse of 4-17 during the middle overs.
The result will be a huge relief to Australia after they starred down the barrel of missing Wednesday’s decider, their last match before their opening World Cup game on February 21.
“Last night we called this our semi-final that we needed to win and we ticked that one off,” Molineux said.
“We’ve definitely got the World Cup in our mind but at the same time we want to win this tri-series and build that momentum.
“To hopefully get another win on Wednesday, we think that’s the best preparation for a World Cup.”
Any defeat to England would have seen Australia sit out the final after India pulled off the third-highest chase in WT20Is to defeat the Aussies on Saturday.
Australia will get an opportunity to turn tables on India with England missing the decider on net run-rate.
While Australia escaped with a second win for the series, concerns remain about the form of some key players leading into the home World Cup.
Star Alyssa Healy’s batting woes continued when caught on the fence from a misguided pull shot for one.
The wicketkeeper/batter has scored 11 runs in her past four internationals and was hit-or-miss during the WBBL.
Veteran batter Rachael Haynes (24) put together her best innings of the series after averaging 6.67 from the first three matches.
Healy’s opening partner Beth Mooney steered Australia’s innings by hitting 50 from 40 balls but fell in the 16th over as the hosts sank to 5-96.
England were superb in the field, with spinners Sarah Glenn (2-18) and Sophie Ecclestone (2-19) in outstanding form.