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An innings that redefines Alyssa Healy's rise at the international level

Last updated on 30 Mar 2022 | 06:18 AM
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An innings that redefines Alyssa Healy's rise at the international level

The wicketkeeper-batter smashed her first hundred in the history of the World Cup to help Australia storm into the final

8th March 2020 will go down as one of the most glorious days in the history of women's cricket as the fans thronged the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the summit clash of the T20 World Cup featuring Australia and arch-rivals India. 

After a dismal performance in the league match against the same opposition, Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney walked in to take center stage in front of a capacity crowd and probably the biggest game of their career.

As cliche as it may sound to treat it as just another game of cricket, it is never easy. In front of your home crowd and millions of people watching it on the televisions sets, there is enormous pressure and expectation as the players set foot on the lush outfield for the first ball.

And guess what, after a reprieve in the opening over, Healy made the Women in Blue pay for their sloppy effort in the field and enthralled the fans with a blistering knock of 75 off 39 deliveries studded with seven boundaries and five massive hits over the fence.

While the innings reinforced the faith of the Australian selectors and the management to continue backing her after a string of low scores in the lead-up to the mega event, the turning point in her international career was after the painful exit from the 2017 World Cup.

"Being given that opportunity to bat at the top of the order in that Ashes series in 2017 is something that probably changed my game and changed my approach to the game and got me really rejuvenated about my cricket," she revealed in a conversation with the ICC website. 

After being in the shadows of Jodie Fields in the first phase of her international career, it is fair to say Healy endured a tough time with the bat ever since her debut and blown hot and cold since the retirement of her skipper. 

However, there is something about Healy that makes you fall in love with the aggressive brand of cricket she displays and the way she goes about her business on the cricket field.

In the 41 innings before the last edition of the iconic event, the 32-year old scored 495 runs in 41 innings at an average of 15.96. However, since the team management redefined her role and assigned her the task of opening the batting, the right-handed batter has entered a league of her own and smashed 1974 runs in 41 innings at an average of 49.35.

While she was at the forefront of Australia's emphatic win against India in the shortest format, the wicketkeeper-batter was itching to contribute to the team and help the inch closer to the fifty-over title in this extravaganza. 

The semi-final exit against the Women in Blue in 2017 acted as a catalyst behind Australia's white-ball revolution, and Healy was determined to erase those dreaded memories to ensure they sail into the final by 157 runs. 

After a delayed start to the proceedings due to rain, there must have been a sense of deja-vu for the Australians as the match against India too was curtailed due to relentless showers. 

However, this time around, Healy ensured Australia did not face any hiccups in the game as she, along with Rachael Haynes, walked into the middle after being asked to bat.

Despite the struggle initially with the damp wicket and the ball moving around, Healy blunted the bowling unit by patiently surviving the first 10 overs of the innings. 

While it was an uncharacteristic start to her knock as she crawled her way to 10 off 25 deliveries and failed to score a boundary in the powerplay, Healy settled to the pace and the bounce of the surface to take the attack to the opposition bowling unit after the field restrictions.

Displaying an array of strokes all around the ground, she was at her brutal best as she raced her way to a half-century and continued to keep her scoreboard ticking.

While she favoured the leg side and scored the bulk of her runs through sweep and pull, another standout feature of this innings was her ability to rotate the strike and run hard between the wickets. 

With conditions conducive for bowling in the first half of the innings, Healy relied on accumulating the ones and the twos to keep the scoreboard moving. 

En route her match-defining partnership of 216 runs with the vice-captain for the first wicket, Healy notched up her maiden hundred in the iconic event to power the mighty Aussies in a commanding position for a mammoth first innings total. 

With a comprehensive win in the semi-finals, Australia will aim to set foot at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch for a Sunday blockbuster and inch closer to their seventh title at the world event. 

"It is obviously what we set out to do, and it has been on the forefront of our mind to play on the 3rd at the Hagley Oval, and I think the girls played outstanding to get to this point," she said in a post-match interview.

After eight games and eight convincing wins, Australia and Healy will look to clinch the coveted trophy and mark a fairytale end to their campaign. 

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