Rampant Australia cruise to their fifth T20 World Cup title

Padmaja Srivatsan
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Australia look to 'bounce' back against Sri Lanka in Perth

Australia players celebrate a wicket. © ICC

Australia became the champions after thrashing India by 85 runs in the final of the T20 World Cup 2020 on Sunday (March 8) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This was Australia's fifth title after clinching it in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2018 editions of the tournament. This victory was even more special for Australia as it came without their star player Ellyse Perry and Tayla Vlaeminck, both of whom missed out due to injuries. This emphatic victory was Meg Lanning's third as a skipper and she becomes just the third captain after Lyn Larsen and Michael Clarke to win a World Cup at home.

It was yet again a dominant display by Australia as they brought their A-game into the summit clash. If Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney set the tone with the bat, it was pacer Megan Schutt (4/18) and Jess Jonassen (3/18) as they just broke the Indian batting backbone to put the opposition under pressure and bundle out India for just 99 runs with five balls to spare.

Chasing a tall target of 185, India were never in the chase as they lost in-form Shafali Verma (two) and Jemimah Rodrigues (0) in the first two overs. The visitors hope solely rested on their senior pros Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur but the former departed for just 11 leaving India in tatters at 19 for three inside the power play.

Birthday girl Kaur too failed to make her day as she slog-swept Jonassen to find Ashleigh Gardner who took a good running catch at square-leg. Deepti Sharma and Veda Krishnamurthy started to resurrect the innings by rotating the strike and scoring odd boundaries before the latter departed for 19. Richa Ghosh, who came in as a concussion substitute for wicket-keeper Taniya Bhatia showed glimpses of her potential but that was too late by then.

With the required rate going above 15, the visitors crumbled and kept on losing wickets at regular intervals. Soon after Deepti and Richa were dismissed it was a matter of time for the hosts as they shot the opposition out in 19.1 overs.

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Earlier opting to bat first, Australia got off to a flying start as Healy collected 13 runs off the first over bowled by Sharma. She took on all almost all the Indian bowlers going bonkers all around the park. The hosts could have in major trouble in the first over itself but Verma dropped Healy at covers before Rajeshwari Gayakwad spilled a dolly of her own bowling against Mooney.

From then on it was one-way traffic as the duo of Healy and Mooney and dispatched loose deliveries to the fence peppering the off-side as the hosts reached 47 without loss at the end of the power play. Healy, best against spin, used her feet well and clubbed two sixes off Gayakwad as it looked like the repeat of the men's World Cup final in 2003.

Healy brought her fifty off just 30 balls with a boundary off Radha Yadav, which was also her third of this tournament. This was also the fastest fifty across genders in the World Cup finals. The swashbuckling batter didn’t stop there as she showed her range of shots when she smashed Shikha Pandey for three successive sixes which left skipper Kaur looking clueless. After 11 overs the hosts raced to 114 without loss and the signs were ominous.

However, against the run of play, Australia lost Healy as Radha finally provided with the much-needed breakthrough with the wicketkeeper-batter departing for a well-made 39-ball 75 breaking the 115-run opening stand. At the other end, Mooney continued to milk runs and brought her ninth fifty in 20 innings off 41 balls. Although Deepti struck twice in an over picking up Meg Lanning (16) and Ashleigh Gardner (two) towards the end of the innings, it did little damage to the hosts as Mooney continued her deft touch and finesse to propel Australia to 184 for the loss of four wickets with the opener finishing at unbeaten on 78 off 54 balls.

Brief scores: Australia 184/4 in 20 overs (Beth Mooney 78*, Alyssa Healy 75; Deepti Sharma 2/38, Poonam Yadav 1/30) beat India 99 all out in 19.1 overs (Deepti Sharma 33; Megan Schutt 4/18, Jess Jonassen 3/18) by 85 runs. PoTM: Alyssa Healy. PoTS: Beth Mooney