Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne
Australia Women 2 for 308 (Perry 112*, Healy 58, Gardner 57*, Mooney 56) beat West Indies Women 8 for 157 (Kyshona 32, Wareham 2-29) by 151 runs
A gritty century from Ellyse Perry in the stifling Antigua heat helped Australia secure the three-match ODI series against West Indies 2-0 with a crushing 151-run win.
The simplicity of the scoreline concealed a day of drama. Australia captain Meg Lanning was withdrawn from the match moments before the toss following back spasms, forcing a hasty cap presentation to debutant Erin Burns, while Beth Mooney was forced to retire hurt late in Australia's innings due to heat exhaustion.
But despite Rachael Haynes, the designated vice-captain, taking over the reins, normal service resumed after Australia won the toss. Alyssa Healy continued her sparkling form, clubbing a 33-ball half-century as she put on a 56-run opening stand with Haynes inside the first ten overs before the stand-in captain fell for 13 off the penultimate ball of the Powerplay.
Perry, elevated to No. 3, was slow to get going and got a reprieve early before her supreme fitness carried her to an unbeaten 112 from 118 balls, her second ODI century and her fourth for Australia in all formats, to anchor the innings as Australia made their second successive score of 308 [they made 4 for 308 in the first game].
"At the start, I was probably a little bit mentally AWOL," Perry said after the match. "I was probably lucky, to be fair, after getting dropped early, but that seemed to sort of pick me up a little bit."
After Healy holed out off Chinelle Henry for 58, Perry got great support from Mooney and Ashleigh Gardner. Mooney ground out 56 from 81 balls in a 129-run stand with Perry before the heat got the better of her, and she was forced to retire at the end of the 42nd over.
It gave Gardner just 48 balls to make an impact and she did more than that, hitting six fours and three sixes in a 23-ball half-century to equal Meg Lanning's record for the fastest fifty by an Australian woman in ODI cricket. She finished on 57 not out off 25 balls and watched Perry smack the last ball of the innings to the cover-point fence. The pair made 86 runs in the last eight overs of the innings.
"Obviously it was a real shame with Meg going down just before the game but I guess that sort of gave other people an opportunity and everyone slid up," Perry said. "I really enjoyed my time out in the middle today but I think there was some great contributions, Midge (Healy) at the start and for Ash to do what she did, that's what she's capable of and what we know she's capable of, so that really got us up over 300 to get a great total on the board."
Perry took the new ball and made the early breakthrough trapping Stacy-Ann King plumb in the fourth over. West Indies' under-strength line-up then made virtually no attempt to chase down the total. After being bowled out for 130 inside 38 overs in the first ODI in Coolidge, the home side managed to bat out their 50 overs in the chase on Sunday, but crawled to 8 for 157. Kyshona Knight top-scored with 32 but took an excruciating 81 deliveries to compile them. Sheneta Grimmond was the only batter to strike at better than 54, making a 31 not out from 37 late in the game, at No. 8. Australia used eight bowlers with six of them claiming wickets. Georgia Wareham had the best figures of 2 for 29 although her two wickets came from what were among the worst deliveries of the day.
"It's an interesting situation at the moment," Perry said. "Obviously they [West Indies] have got a number of their key players missing. I think from a confidence point of view, and match awareness and knowing how to take the game - I think it's a real challenge. From that point of view, it's up to us to make them play but also be really meticulous on our standards.
"In the first game we bowled way too many extras and probably today we bowled a few too many but all in all I think it's been great to challenge ourselves to try things to try and execute things."
AUS Women vs WI Women
AUS-W in West Indies
ICC Women's Championship