In the final match of Group B, New Zealand took on Ireland. New Zealand ended their campaign on a high, registering an eight wicket win, chasing down Ireland’s 79-9 in the eighth over. The match saw four integral players in the Ireland side call time on their career.
Ireland would have wanted to end their WT20 campaign having a registered a win. Especially so since two of their most experienced internationals had announced their retirement following the conclusion of the tournament. One of those was Clare Shillington, who opened the batting with Cecilia Joyce- who announced her retirement, along with her twin sister Isobel’s- at the end of the match. Though Ireland won the toss, they were quickly on the back foot with New Zealand exerting pressure early. C. Joyce was dismissed for one, while Shillington laboured to make her last innings in the Irish colours count. Unfortunately for her, it was not to be as was bowled by Leigh Kasperek for 12 off 22, deceived by a delivery that stayed low. A ball later, I. Joyce was caught LBW and Ireland were reduced to 30-3.
With her team struggling, 17-year-old Gaby Lewis took on the responsibility of scoring runs. She played a wonderful knock of 39 off 36, including five boundaries, scoring almost half of her teams total. Her innings came to an end when she danced down the track to attack Amelia Kerr but missed the ball and was stumped by Katey Martin. Together with her captain Laura Delany, the two put on a 39-run stand to guide their team to a total of 79-9. Once the wicket of Lewis fell though, Ireland crumbled from 71-5 to 79-9.
One could argue luck was not on Ireland’s side as, upon replaying I. Joyce’s wicket it was evident that the ball was missing leg-stump. Ireland though, did not take a review then, nor did they when Shauna Kavanagh was given out LBW. Again, the ball was not hitting the stumps. When Kim Garth was given out in the same manner, Ireland eventually took the review. Only, this time the ball was hitting the stumps and Garth had to walk back.
For New Zealand, Leigh Kasperek led with the ball, taking three wickets for 19 runs. Lea Tahuhu and Amelia Kerr contributed with two wickets each, while Jess Watkin and Sophie Devine claimed a scalp apiece. Devine in particular was miserly, giving only four runs from her three overs, in a spell that included a wicket-maiden over.
In their chase, New Zealand were in a hurry. 11 runs came off the first over, eight off the second. The third was bowled by retiring international Metcalfe. In the over, Bates reached the milestone of 3000 T20I runs, making her the first player to achieve the feat, before Devine took Metcalfe for a further 16 runs. Devine hammered her way to the joint fastest half-century in this WT20, off 21 balls, bringing up the milestone with a four and earning herself the Player-of-the-Match honours. The next ball, she was caught by Joyce off the bowling of Delany. By the end of the Power Play, New Zealand were cruising along at 74-1, the highest total in the Power Play in the tournament so far. With just six runs to go, Bates went for the big shot to finish the innings in style. That was not to be though, as Shillington took a good catch on the boundary to send her back. Captain Amy Satterthwaite then finished the chase off with a four to secure a second win for her side in the tournament, by eight wickets.
It was emotional end to Shillington’s 21 year long international career and Metcalfe’s 18 year long one as the White Ferns lined up to give them the Guard of Honour. The Irish players then huddled together for a few speeches led by the Joyce sisters. In her post-match interview, Delany revealed that they had also chosen to retire from the international stage. Ireland lose four stalwarts of the game who contributed greatly to growing the game in their country.
Meanwhile, New Zealand will be disappointed not to advance further. Unfortunately for them, their best performances came when they were already out of the running. From Group B, India qualified at the top of the table, while Australia came in second. The winner of England versus West Indies clash will determine who faces off against whom in the semi-finals.