In a repeat of the last World Twenty-20’s final, Australia took on West Indies to battle out for a place in the finals. This time around, they enacted their revenge, registering a mammoth 71 run win over their opponents. On the back of this win, Australia have secured their place in the final of the World T20 2018.
The hosts won the toss and elected to field first. Alyssa Healy recovered from concussion to open the batting with Beth Mooney and showed no signs of slowing down as she continued her fine form of the tournament. Though Australia lost the wicket of Mooney early, Healy and captain Meg Lanning ground it out in their 51-run partnership. The pitch looked to be a difficult one to bat on as the ball stuck and the outfield was slow, so runs were hard to come by. With spin proving more effective, Hayley Matthews was thrown the ball. Her first over was an eventful one with Lanning barely surviving a stumping attempt. The next ball had her diving to prevent a run out off the back of some brilliant fielding by Deandra Dottin. The chaos and foreign pitch though, did not faze Healy, who narrowly missed out on yet another half-century. She had to depart for a 38-ball-46, caught by Shamilia Connell, off the bowling of Afy Fletcher as she looked to sweep. Her contribution ensured she claimed another Player-of-the-Match award, her fourth of the tournament, out of five matches.
Ashleigh Gardener then came in for a quick cameo of 14 off 10, a knock that included a four and six. But, it was Dottin who made the big breakthrough by taking Lanning’s wicket. Lanning looked to make room, shuffling to the leg-side and was bowled by Dottin, who clipped the leg-stump. After doing all the hard work, Lanning had to walk back for 31 off 39, just as she was starting to accelerate. Elyse Villani’s lean run in the tournament continued as she was dismissed cheaply soon afterwards, with Brittany Cooper taking a blinder in the outfield. Australia were on 113-5 in the 18th over and it did not look like they would post a competitive total on the board. Rachael Haynes though, had other plans. She smashed an unbeaten 25 off just 15 deliveries, including taking 17 runs off Dottin’s second over. Haynes’ knock helped her side reach a challenging total of 142-6.
For West Indies, skipper Stafanie Taylor bowled economically and took a wicket. Shakira Selman, Fletcher, Matthews and Dottin all picked up a scalp each as well. Dottin in particular proved quite expensive, going at an economy of 11.50, off her two overs.
The pressure of a semi-final is completely different to that of games in the group stages. While chasing, especially so while chasing a good total, nerves can kick in. To combat those, the batting side needs to get off to a good start. Unfortunately for West Indies, that is what they failed to do. Matthews, in a masterful piece of work by Healy, was run out for five. Dottin followed shortly afterwards, the ideal delivery from Ellyse Perry cleaning her up. Shemaine Campbelle then tried to pull a loose ball from Perry but, only managed to find the safe hands of Sophie Molinuex. At the end of the Power Play, West Indies were in trouble at 26-3. Matters only got worse for the home team as Natasha McLean gave a simple catch to Lanning. The crowd, that had been loud and boisterous up till now, was in stunned silence.
The chase now rested solely on the experienced shoulders of Taylor. She tried to accelerate, taking seven off a Georgia Wareham over, but in the next one, skied the ball and was caught by Wareham. The skipper had to depart for a patient knock of 16 off 28. She had to be aggressive as the run rate was climbing. Sadly for the Windies, she mishit it and had to walk back. Wickets continued to tumble as Taylor remained the top-scorer for her side. No other batter reached double figures. As a result, West Indies were rolled out for 71, meeting only half of the total needed.
Perry made the early breakthroughs for her side, claiming two scalps for just two runs. Gardener and Delissa Kimmince took two wickets each as well, while Megan Schutt, Wareham and Molinuex chipped in with a wicket apiece.
Australia now make their way to their fifth consecutive final in this tournament. The Australian camp were a happy bunch with Lanning barely able to contain her excitement in the post-match interview. In contrast, there were tears in the West Indian camp as the hosts and defending champions saw their campaign come to an end. Questions were raised about whether West Indies made the right decision by choosing to bat first. With the pitch also favouring spin more, did the Windies make a mistake by not playing the leading wicket-taker in women’s T20I’s, wily off-spinner Anisa Mohammad? That question is for later though. The more pressing one for now is; who will join Australia in the final, India or England?