The millionth ball in women’s international was bowled in West Indies previous game. A lot of them will not have felt as important as every ball in the world T20 for both sides from now on. It was West Indies that came out with the greater urgency and calmness in execution. It was a classic T20 game as the momentum swung as much as an Anya Shrubsole in-swinger.
With a partisan home crowd at the Darren Sammy Stadium in Saint Lucia, England looked on the ropes against the defending champions at the halfway stage of their innings. England have got world cup winners of their own. The game was on a knife-edge for both teams but it was West Indies that won by four wickets with 3 balls to spare. It means they will play Australia in the semi-finals.
England knew an opening partnership of some substance would help ease any nerves. However, Danni Wyatt looking for the bold shot over mid-off could not elevate the ball over Chinelle Henry who took the catch on the edge of the circle. England lost a cluster of wickets. Amy Jones who earlier had seen the ball bobbled onto her stumps only for the bails to stay put then skied one the ball after Tammy Beaumont was dropped by the keeper Kycia Knight.
The West Indies fielding was on the whole very sharp and the run out Lauren Winfield typified that. England were 50 for 6 and they needed to rebuild. Sophia Dunkley in her first innings showed the coolness that had seen her propelled to the England team.
Along with the experienced Shrubsole, they added 58 for the 7th wicket the highest in women’s T20 internationals. They took calculated risks. Dunkley even managed to bring up England’s first six of the tournament. It helped England to 115 for 8. Which was a just about par total, considering the power at the top of the West Indies batting.
Anya Shrubsole never knows when she is beaten though as she bowled Hayley Matthews with her first ball an inswinger that exposed an old weakness in the batter. Three balls later Stefanie Taylor was back in the hutch.
It brought Deandra Dottin and Semaine Campbelle to the middle. They were watchful from the start. That didn’t stop Dottin hitting Natalie Sciver for 6 from her sixth ball. It looked as if they were soaking up too many dot balls. It was calculated. They took the game deep before Dottin was caught sweeping in the deep by Wyatt to give Kirstie Gordon another wicket in the tournament.
Dottin had gone for 46 from 52 balls. It was then Campbelle’s turn to take the pressure to England’s bowlers. When she was also caught by Wyatt for 45 by Shrubsole the game could still have swung England’s way. In truth, though England’s fielding was sloppy towards the end and allowed West Indies to turn dot balls into singles and ones into twos.
It was the type of game that will be remembered for a long time and ramps up the excitement that the world T20 will want going into the semi-finals.
England will play India in the semis and West Indies plays Australia.