Australia’s top order responds to ‘honest conversations’ after uncertain run

Australia’s World Cup campaign remains on a knife-edge but their convincing victory against Bangladesh was forged from their most convincing top-order display since the series against Sri Lanka last year.

The 151-run opening stand between Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney followed two uncertain displays in the matches against India and Sri Lanka, the first of which ended in the defeat and the second which saw Australia rocking on 10 for 3 before Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes prevented the unthinkable.

At Manuka Oval on Thursday evening, in front of a healthy crowd of 5,614, everything clicked for Healy and Mooney, albeit against a largely friendly Bangladesh attack and an opposition who had a very poor day in the field.

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However, regardless of the strength of the opposition, after two matches where the highest stand among the first three wickets had been 32, the dominant return of Healy and Mooney was timely and had the basis in some honest words shared among the top order.

“As a batting group we spoke about potentially not doing our job as well as we would have liked, so to be able to go out there and put a pretty decent score on the board on a fairly low and tricky wicket in my opinion was pretty great, and hopefully that gives us some confidence moving forward,” Healy said.

“I think having those honest conversations aren’t easy, but this team really seems to be quite good at it and is able to call stuff out when it’s happening. I think to be able to sit down as a batting group and just identify some areas that we weren’t doing great and where we could be better I think was great for the group.

“Sometimes you know they’re there, but when you say it out loud and you verbalize it, it sort of reinforces it in your own mind about your plans or what someone else might be doing, as well, to get out of your own head. I thought it was great to be able to come out tonight and sort of respond to that.”

On a personal note for Healy it was another sign that she has emerged from the pre-tournament run of low scores which left her with five single-figure returns in a row for the first time in her T20I career. In the opening match against India she struck a rapid half-century, only for her dismissal to herald Australia’s collapse, then she received one of the deliveries of the tournament from Sri Lanka’s Udeshika Prabodhani which swung back to bowl her for a duck at the WACA.

In Canberra she raced out of the blocks with three boundaries in the opening over and never looked back with a display that put her on track for her second T20I hundred until she perished hunting another boundary. After her 83, she was the leading run-scorer of the tournament ahead of Shafali Verma and Heather Knight.

The theme throughout Healy’s lean run was that it was merely a blip and the fortunes would change – both captain Meg Lanning and coach Matthew Mott said she didn’t need to alter anything – but however mentally strong a player can be there is no substitute to actually seeing a score in the book.

“I think at some point I did question if I was doing the right thing,” Healy said. “But at the same time, I think getting that reassurance from people that I was doing the right thing, and sometimes when you’re playing the game of cricket you’re not actually out there long enough to lose any form, I still felt like I was hitting the ball really well in the nets and was just sort of finding the fielder or finding some really unlucky ways to get out.”

Barring a Bangladesh victory over New Zealand, a spot in the semi-final will come down to the trans-Tasman clash in Melbourne on Monday, after India secured their progression with a win over New Zealand. “We’re coming up on Monday against a side that we’re really familiar with, so hopefully that suits us even more,” Healy said.