Galle, Sept 29 (IBNS): Defending champion Australia and former winner England on Saturday qualified for the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012 after recording their second successive victories in Group A here.
Australia defeated Pakistan by 25 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis Method, while an unbeaten 50 by captain Charlotte Edwards and an all-round effort by Laura Marsh (two for 22 and 39) helped England beat India by nine wickets.
The final positions in Group A will be confirmed on Monday when the two unbeaten sides lock horns in the afternoon match.
In the first match of the day on Saturday, an opening stand of 53 between Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning set a strong foundation for Australia, which finished at an impressive 146 for five.
After the departure of both the openers, who fell to Pakistan’s left-arm spinner Sadia Yousuf in the ninth over, Jessica Cameron and Lisa Sthalekar continued the fast pace, putting together a valuable stand of 67 runs that came off 45 balls.
Cameron, who was named player of the match for her knock of 42 from 28 balls, seemed to relish the challenge of performing on the big stage. "I think I've worked really hard for this," she said. "Our preparation here has been good, we've adjusted well to the conditions here. I don't believe I've done too much, hopefully I'm reserving my best for England."
Chasing 147 to stay alive in the tournament, Pakistan was struggling at 38 for three from nine overs when rain prevented any further play in the match.
For Australia, Marsh finished with figures of two for 22 in four overs, while Katherine Brunt, Holly Colvin and Arran Brindle picked up one wicket apiece.
Pakistan captain Sana Mir was disappointed by the loss. "It is tough to digest this loss. We don't have too much international exposure, so this was a stage that we all looked forward to, and it is very disappointing to lose in this manner.
"We didn't want to concede more than 130 runs, but even with that, when we came out to bat, we tinkered with the batting in order to make use of the Powerplay overs, but it didn't work,” she said.
Sana added that continued opportunities against the top teams were the only way the team could improve. "We played Australia three years ago in a warm-up, and haven't played against them since,” she said. “I think it is important to play against the top teams.
"We really look forward to playing the bigger teams. It is about playing and improving, and that can happen only if we regularly play against the top sides like England and Australia," she said.
Looking ahead at the last group match against India, Sana said: "We want to go out on a high, and there’s no bigger motivation than beating India. We've worked hard and it’s disappointing, but we can't fight the weather. If we have to go out, we may as well go down fighting."
In the second match of the day, India started off slowly after opting to bat first, and finished at 116 for six. Opener Poonam Raut top scored with 51 off 57 balls, and her 75-run stand for the second wicket with Mithali Raj (35) came off less than 13 overs.
In turn, openers Charlotte Edwards and Marsh posted the highest partnership of the match of 78 before Marsh was stumped on 39. Edwards matched her stroke-for-stroke to finish unbeaten on 50, her sixth T20I half-century.
Sarah Taylor, who came in at number three, remained unbeaten on 25, as England achieved victory with seven wickets and 17 balls to spare.
Along the way, player of the match Edwards became the first player in Women's Twenty20 history to score 1500 international runs. However, she was firmly focused on the team rather than individual milestones.
"I didn't know about the record," she said at the post-match press conference. "I scored 1000 runs last season, so to score 500 more feels good, but more importantly it is coming in a winning cause, which matters the most,” she said
Edwards attributed the team’s success with the bat to a change in mindset: "It is important to adapt quickly and we've done that,” she said. “All our batters have trained hard and undergone extended net sessions in these conditions, so we're really well equipped.
The pitch here was as good as any I've played on in recent times, so that helped too.”
Indian captain Mithali Raj was disappointed to miss out on a semi-final berth, but offered no excuses. "We played well below our potential," she said. "We knew we had two former champions in our group, and we had to play out of our skins, but we underachieved."
Despite the loss, Raj felt there were some positives the team could carry into its last game against Pakistan.
"Poonam (Raut) has played well in both the games, so that is a good sign,” she said. “The game against Pakistan may not have any consequence in terms of the tournament, but it is still a World T20 game. We are just looking at it as another opportunity to go out and perform. Hopefully we will get the right results."
Scores in Brief:
At GICS, Australia beat Pakistan by 25 runs (D/L method)
Australia 146 for five, 20 overs (Jessica Cameron 42, Alyssa Healy 36, Lisa Sthalekar 29; Sadia Yousuf 2-39)
Pakistan 38 for three, 9 overs (Qanita Jalil 13; Ellyse Perry 2-19)
Player of the Match – Jessica Cameron (Australia)
At GICS, England beat India by nine wickets (with 17 balls remaining)
India 116 for 6, 20 overs (Poonam Raut 51, Mithali Raj 35*; Laura Marsh 2-22)
England 118 for one, 17.1 overs (Charlotte Edwards 50*; Laura Marsh 39; Sarah Taylor 25*, Reema Malhotra 1-23)