Beth Mooney got her batting back on track thanks to a mammoth partnership with Alyssa Healy that steered Australia to a 10-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the Women’s T20 World Cup here.
The five-time champions suffocated Sri Lanka with spin to stop them from capitalizing on a fast start provided by skipper Chamari Athapaththu and Harshitha Samarawickrama.
Megan Schutt then took three wickets in the final over as Sri Lanka ended on 112 for eight before Healy (54 not out) and Mooney (56 not out) saw Australia home without losing a wicket.
Having been put into bat, Sri Lanka raced to 29 runs off the first four overs, Athapaththu playing the pick of the shots to drive Ashleigh Gardner over cow corner for six.
The skipper did not last much longer as Grace Harris morphed into Superwoman to take a flying catch at mid-on and dismiss Athapaththu for a run-a-ball 16.
Her opening partner Samarawickrama, looked unperturbed as she continued Sri Lanka’s strong scoring intent, with Vishmi Gunaratne joining in.
But as Meg Lanning turned to back-to-back spin, Sri Lanka lost any impetus – Georgia Wareham, Harris and Alana King coughing up only six runs in three overs as Sri Lanka reached the halfway stage at 56 for one.
Gunaratne survived a leg-before-wicket call in King’s second over, but it was not long before Samarawickrama departed.
The left-hander moved down the wicket but could not connect with a flighted-up delivery from Harris and Healy swiped off the bails to send Samarawickrama back to hutch having made 34.
Oshadi Ranasinghe lasted only four balls before excitement got the better of her and she sent an easy catch to Tahlia McGrath at long on as Harris took her first World Cup wickets.
Anushka Sanjeewani joined Gunaratne at the crease and found a much-needed boundary, the first for 8.3 overs, but she was the next to be undone by the ball’s flight as Wareham added to her three wickets against Bangladesh.
The death overs belonged to Schutt, dismissing Gunaratne for 24 from 33 as she flailed at the ball and sent it to Ellyse Perry at mid-wicket in the 18th over.
Then with the final six deliveries of the innings, the right-arm seamer took three wickets, as Mooney took an easy catch to dismiss Ama Kanchana before Malsha Shehani and Sugandika Kumari were both stumped by Healy.
Schutt ended with figures of four for 24 as Sri Lanka set the reigning champions 113 to win.
In reply, Australia got the only thing they had really been searching for in this tournament, a solid opening partnership.
There were signs that Australia would take it steady as they did against Bangladesh as Kumari delivered a maiden in the third over, but Healy and Mooney soon got motoring.
The very next over the duo combined to dispatch Ranasinghe for 13 runs, before bringing up the 50 partnership in 7.4 overs.
The hundred partnership followed in the 14th over as Healy secured her half-century from 38 balls by reverse-sweeping Athapaththtu off a free hit.
Mooney took a little more time to reach her milestone doing so off 50 balls, but it was enough to put her stuttering form at the start of the tournament behind her.
Healy finished off the win with a single to put Australia in pole position for a spot in the semi-finals and consign Sri Lanka to their first defeat in the tournament.
Brief Score: Australia 113/0 (Beth Mooney 56*, Alyssa Healy 54*; Sugandika Kumari 0-10, Chamari Athapaththu 0-12) vs Sri Lanka 112/8 (Harshitha Samarawickrama 34, Vishmi Gunaratne 24; Megan Schutt 4-24, Grace Harris 2-7) (ANI)