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Alyssa Healy scores 99 before Australia defeats South Africa for 76 runs in a single Test match.
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Alyssa Healy scores 99 before Australia defeats South Africa for 76 runs in a single Test match.

Despite Alyssa Healy’s disappointment of being dismissed one run shy of a century, Australia dominated the first day of the women’s Test against South Africa.

After losing the toss and being sent in to bat, South Africa were skittled for a record-low 76 in 31.2 overs after the emerging pace star Darcie Brown (5-21) ran rampant at the WACA Ground in Perth on Thursday.

Australia was responding to the situation by falling to a score of 3-12, but then Healy (99 runs off 124 balls) and Beth Mooney (78 runs off 109 balls) stepped in to save the day.

Australia ended day one with a score of 5-251, giving them a lead of 175. Annabel Sutherland (54 not out) and Ashleigh Gardner (yet to score) were at the crease.

Before the match began, South Africa suffered a major setback as their key player Marizanne Kapp was unable to play due to illness, in what is only their second Test since 2014.

Brown and Sutherland (3-19) achieved their best career performance in the hot conditions of Perth, successfully dismissing South Africa with a score of 76.

This was the lowest score recorded by South Africa in women’s Test cricket, as they were unable to surpass their previous score of 89 against New Zealand in Durban in 1972.

After the lunch break, Brown took the last wicket of the innings by hitting Ayanda Hlubi’s leg stump, only 10 minutes had passed.

The Australian, who is 20 years old and had only achieved three wickets in her previous three Tests before this week’s game, lifted the ball in celebration as she left the field, acknowledging the spectators.

Masabata Klaas, the pace bowler from South Africa, took three wickets for 39 runs, including the important dismissals of Phoebe Litchfield (4), Ellyse Perry (3), and Tahlia McGrath (0) in rapid succession. This caused Australia to fall to a score of 3-12.

However, a combined score of 155 runs from Healy and Mooney sealed the victory, making it nearly impossible for South Africa to win and draw the multi-format series.

Healy was on course to achieve her first Test hundred, which would have marked her scoring a century in all three formats of the sport at the international level. However, with only four minutes remaining before the end of the day’s play, Healy’s effort to gently steer the ball for a single and reach a score of 100 resulted in Delmi Tucker catching the ball and getting her out.

Delmi Tucker celebrates after taking a catch off her own bowling to dismiss Alyssa Healy during day one of the women’s Test match between Australia and South Africa at the WACA on 14 February 2024 in Perth

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Healy was incredulous as she made her way off the field, her 200-minute batting performance falling just one run short of victory.

“We were all disappointed for her,” Brown expressed. “In the end, it was just one run. She saved us from the early struggles and batted exceptionally, making us all very proud of her.”

Kapp’s contributions were crucial in South Africa’s victories against Australia in both the ODI and T20 matches of the ongoing multi-format series. Despite Australia ultimately winning the T20 and ODI components 2-1, there were expectations that a strong performance from Kapp and the South African team would pose a tough competition in the four-day Test. However, this did not come to fruition.

During the initial overs, Healy and Mooney missed catching opportunities. However, this did not result in any runs for Australia as Brown successfully dismissed South Africa’s openers Laura Wolvaardt and Anneke Bosch at a low cost. At that point, Brown’s statistics were 2 wickets for 1 run, putting South Africa in a difficult position at 5 runs for 2 wickets.

Tazmin Brits scored five runs off 48 balls, slowing down the game’s pace, while Suné Luus contributed 26 runs to initiate a small comeback.

However, two wickets were taken in consecutive balls by Sutherland, causing the opposing team to fall from a score of 2-33 to 8-50. This proved that Australia’s choice to bowl first on the wicket with a green tinge was justified.

Source: theguardian.com