Australian skipper Meg Lanning made a tricky chase look easy as the 29-year-old batting stalwart hammered an unbeaten 135 off just 130 deliveries against South Africa to guide the six-time ICC Women’s World Cup champions to their sixth consecutive win in the tournament at the Basin Reserve on Tuesday.
Thanks to another Lanning master-class, Australia remained unbeaten in the World Cup, chasing down the Proteas’ 271/5 in just 45.2 overs for an emphatic five-wicket victory.
This was Lanning’s 15th ODI ton, with the Australia captain taking control of the run chase as soon as she came to the crease in the third over, finishing unbeaten to record her third World Cup century. The win sees Australia move further clear at the top of the league standings with 12 points.
While South Africa are second on the standings with eight points, the defeat does leave Sune Luus’ side in danger of missing out on the semifinal berth should they lose any of their last two matches against the West Indies and India.
But it was all about Lanning on Tuesday as the Australian played a captain’s knock that was one of her best innings of all time. Lanning showed disdain for the South Africa bowlers that had done superbly so far at the tournament. She found the gaps with ease to finish with 15 boundaries and one huge six while her teammates fell around her.
Opener Alyssa Healy (1) was out in the third over and Rachael Haynes (17) followed her back to the pavilion in the 11th over when Mignon du Preez held on to a superb catch in the outfield to leave Australia in a spot of bother at 45/2.
Lanning had a 60-run stand with the reliable Beth Mooney (21) and then an even better one of 93 with all-rounder Tahlia McGrath (32) that put Australia in a dominant position to cruise home. A back injury to Ellyse Perry was the only negative to come out of the win for Australia, with the veteran all-rounder bowling just three overs and then not used with the bat.
Earlier, opener Laura Wolvaardt continued her rich run of form with a stylish 90 as the Proteas posted a decent total from their 50 overs.
Lizelle Lee (36) put on 88 with Wolvaardt for the opening wicket, while skipper Luus (52) notched another half-century of her own to help pace the Proteas during the middle overs.
Ash Gardner held on to a beauty in the outfield to dismiss du Preez (14), while Marizanne Kapp (30 not out) got a few away late to help boost South Africa’s total.
But that total was never going to be enough with Lanning in combat mode, despite two wickets apiece to seamer Shabnim Ismail (2/33) and spinner Chloe Tryon (2/44) for South Africa.
Brief scores: South Africa 271/5 in 50 overs (Lizelle Lee 36, Laura Wolvaardt 90, Sune Luus 52, Marizanne Kapp 30 not out) lost to Australia 272/5 in 45.2 overs (Meg Lanning 135 not out, Tahlia McGrath 32; Shabnim Ismail 2/33) by five wickets.