HAMILTON: Opener Rachael Haynes smashed a scintillating 130-run knock as Australia rode on a brilliant batting performance to eke out a 12-run win over defending champions England in a high-scoring ICC Women's World Cup match here on Saturday.
In another match, South Africa handed a 32-run defeat to Bangladesh in Dunedin.
A minute's silence was observed before the start of the play to honour the memory of Australian legends Shane Warne and Rodney Marsh, who died on Friday within hours of each other.
Put in to bat, Australia posted a daunting 310 for 3 courtesy a 196-run stand between Haynes and skipper Meg Lanning (86).
It was the highest total England had conceded in World Cups.
Haynes blazed away to almost a run-a-ball 130 off 131 balls, hitting the ball 14 times to the fence and once over it, with Lanning complementing her perfectly.
Nat Sciver, who remained unbeaten on 109, and star opener Tammy Beaumont (74) tried to rally England to victory but the defending champions fell short in an exciting match.
England snared Australia opener Alyssa Healy, early on with Sciver dismissing her for 28 as the Aussies slipped to 35/1.
Lanning joined a cautious Haynes at the crease, and the duo went about building a partnership, scoring at a steady rate.
England bowled well for the most part, although there were slip-ups in the field.
The Australia pair did well to squeeze singles, even as they employed caution.
As the innings progressed and the pitch eased out, the duo gradually abandoned caution, although after 35 overs, Australia were still at 172/1.
With 10 overs to go, Haynes and Lanning began playing their shots.
Australia added 100 runs in the final 10 overs, and the fall of Lanning in the 43rd over didn't arrest the flow of runs as Beth Mooney (19-ball 27) came in and provided good support to Ellyse Perry (14 off 5) Defending the mammoth target, Megan Schutt, dented England early in the innings with the wicket of Lauren Winfield-Hill for a duck.
Captain Heather Knight and Beaumont took some time to settle but made up for it.
Beaumont raced to a fifty but Knight fell 10 runs short of the milestone, ending a brilliant 92-run partnership.
Sciver and Beaumont then began the repair work.
However, the former was stumped off Alana King's bowling in the 28th over.
Australia picked two more wickets in quick succession but Sciver kept going, hitting 13 boundaries.
Sophia Dunkley and Katherine Brunt provided Sciver some assistance but without power hitters at the other end, the total proved too much to handle for them.
South Africa start World Cup campaign with a win
Ayabonga Khaka's superb seam bowling helped South Africa win their opening match.
Put in to bat, the South Africans were bundled out for a below-par 207 with Marizanne Kapp (42), Laura Wolvaardt (41) and hard-hitting Chloe Tryon (39) lifting them to a competitive total.
Bangladesh made a steady start, reaching 69 for one before Khaka reduced them to 85 for four.
Nigar Sultana (29) and Ritu Moni (27) tried to make a match of it but it was too late as Bangladesh were bowled out for 175.
Earlier, Jahanara Alam's experience and Fariha Trisna's youth made for a pleasing new ball partnership for Bangladesh and it took Tazmin Brits 19 balls to get off the mark when she lifted the latter for a four over mid-on but the former world junior javelin champion departed for eight.
Wolvaardt and Lara Goodall (12) steadied the ship with the powerful opener profiting from the introduction of spin.
Medium-pacer Moni got rid of Wolvaardt with Goodall departing in the next over.
The experienced pair of Kapp and skipper Sune Luus (25) took control with three boundaries but were separated when the latter was run out.
Tryon and Kapp then peppered the boundary in a brilliant 71-run stand.
Tryon then looked to go big again but was caught at mid-off for 39, heralding a flurry of late wickets.
The last four went down for 14 runs inside five overs.
The Proteas went in search of early wickets with aggressive lines and lengths but were met with stoical resistance from Sharmin Akhter and Shamima Sultana.
But once Khaka made the breakthrough by beating Sultana's drive, wickets tumbled at regular intervals.