There was never any doubt in the Australian World Cup camp that star opener Beth Mooney would find the form that has elevated her to No.2 on the T20 batter world rankings.
But even Alyssa Healy was thankful her opening partner finally got the mental health relief she needed as both batters made half-centuries in Australia’s crushing 10-wicket win over Sri Lanka as the defending champs made a bold statement in South Africa.
Mooney, who was picked up for $350,000 in the WPL auction on Monday, the second-highest amount spent on an Australian, had made just two runs in her previous three innings, including a duck in the opening World Cup game and was beginning to feel the pinch.
But after star Australian seamer Megan Schutt picked up 4-24 to rout the previously undefeated Sri Lankans for just 112, Mooney and Healy went to work.
Between them Mooney (56 not out off 53 balls) and Healy (54 off 43) whacked 13 fours and a six to reel in the paltry total in the 16th over as their unbeaten tournament run continued.
Healy, named player of the match after making her second half-century of the tournament showing she was fully recovered from a calf injury, said it was good to see Mooney get going again.
“I think it was good for her to spend some time at the crease, probably more for her own mental health than anything else,” she said.
“I think she‘s been hitting the ball really well in the nets and yeah, just hasn’t quite been clicking on the field. So yeah, just nice for her to spend some time out in the middle and for me to be there at the other end and sort of support that as best I can by just trying to accumulate runs at my end.
“So yeah, I thought she played really well today and hopefully that gives her confidence moving forward.”
Australia will next play hosts South Africa on Sunday morning in their final pool game before the semi-finals.
Grace Harris was picked for the World Cup squad for her power-hitting ability but has only had one bat in South Africa.
But her contributions have been better than average with the ball and in the field, taking 2-7 against Sri Lanka as well as a stunning catch, although Healy wasn’t all that impressed.
“So much Mayo on that,” Healy said.
“I‘m actually pretty sure it was Tahlia McGrath’s catch. And Grace called her out of it and wanted to take a hang of it. Full credit to her for hanging on to it.”
MORE TO COME
Despite racking up three straight wins, with different contributors starring with bat and ball, Healy was adamant Australia had improvement to come in their quest for a three-peat of titles.
“Yeah, I think we can always improve in little bits and pieces throughout a game,” she said.
“Look, I thought we‘ve played really well the last couple of games. Our fielding’s been a little bit hit and miss at times, but I thought today we were pretty outstanding.
“So just a few areas we might need to tighten up.”
Sri Lanka 112/8 in 20 overs (Harshitha Samarawickrama 34, Vishmi Gunaratne 24; Megan Schutt 4/24, Grace Harris 2/7)
Australia 113/0 in 15.5 overs (Beth Mooney 56 not out, Alyssa Healy 54 not out; Sugandika Kumari 0/10, Chamari Athapaththu 0/12)
Player of the Match: Alyssa Healy (Australia)
Originally published as Beth Mooney hits back to guide Australia to huge World Cup win