Schutt, Villani crush Ireland Women
Australia Women 92 for 3 (Villani 43, Perry 29*, Garth 2-24) beat Ireland Women 91 for 7 (Garth 27, Schutt 3-29, Farrell 2-11) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Elyse Villani top-scored with 43 from 35 balls to keep Australia Women's semi-final challenge firmly on track in Delhi, as Ireland's disappointing campaign came to a close with a seven-wicket defeat, their fourth loss in as many outings. Australia's qualification to the next round was secured following New Zealand Women's big victory against South Africa Women a few hours later. *
On a slow surface, the same one that was used for England's men's match against Afghanistan and will be back in action for their Group 1 showdown with Sri Lanka tonight, boundaries were scarce and dot balls plentiful as Ireland struggled for headway after being asked to bat first.
Thanks to a doughty trio of 20s from their top three, Clare Shillington, Cecelia Joyce and Kim Garth, who top-scored with 27 from 46 balls, they eventually reached 91 for 7 in their 20 overs. However, as a measure of their struggles, that total was their second highest of the competition, behind the 115 for 8 they made against Sri Lanka.
The tone for Ireland's innings was set in the first 11 balls, from which they failed to score a single run, and though Shillington in particular responded impressively with three fours and a solitary six through midwicket in her 22 from 18 balls, her team-mates struggled to obtain the same momentum.
With 2 for 11 in her four overs, Farrell combined with the spinners Kirsten Beams and Jess Jonassen to squeeze the life out of the contest, and she was aided by some exceptional work in the field as well. Two direct-hit run-outs came on her watch, as Jonassen pinged down the stumps to remove Laura Delany before Villani did likewise to Mary Waldron from the final ball of the innings.
Ireland's total never looked like being enough to challenge the irrepressible Australians, the three-times reigning champions whose key defeat to New Zealand earlier in the tournament has left them guarding against complacency as they seek their habitual place in the knockout stages.
Australia did ship two early wickets in their reply - Isobel Joyce's brilliant one-handed scoop at midwicket to remove Alyssa Healy was followed by Meg Lanning's swipe across the line to be bowled for 8 by Garth. The ball seemed to keep a touch low as it plucked out Lanning's middle stump, which was a sight that may have some bearing on how the men's match pans out.
Villani and Ellyse Perry, however, combined for the key stand of Australia's chase - a third-wicket alliance of 54 in 7.4 overs that featured the sort of power, placement and judgement of a single that their opponents had been unable to match.
Villani struck six fours before miscuing a wipe over mid-off to give Garth a hard-earned second wicket, but by that stage Australia needed just seven runs to win. They might also have removed Perry late in the chase, when she hoisted a full-toss from Ciara Metcalfe to deep midwicket, only for the dismissal to be overturned because the ball was above waist-height.
*GMT 16:43 - This report was updated to reflect that Australia are through following the result of the New Zealand-South Africa match
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket