T20 World Cup rewind: Top five knocks

Captain of all the 10 participating team's during the ICC Women's T20 World Cup media launch. © ICC/Twitter

The T20 World Cup may be over, but we can’t seem to get over some of the innings played. Women’s CricZone looks at five of the best.

Meg Lanning – 49* vs South Africa

Sometimes a known danger has the potential to cause more harm than an unknown one. It was known that Meg Lanning is a big-match player. It was an open secret that her record in T20I knockout games is beyond compare. It could well be written in bold letters, that Meg Lanning’s knocks are often in the guise of slow death rather than a knockout punch. Yet South Africa were unable to devise a plan to stop the Australian skipper when they came up against her in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup.

It was a match, which had plenty of rain around it. At more than one point, there were showers expected and hence, South Africa had opted to chase. Ayabonga Khaka has sent back Alyssa Healy cheaply, when Lanning walked in. She quickly got going on a track, that seemed to slow down as the game progressed. Working the ball around and finding the odd boundary, she looked poised to continue her magnificent record in knockouts. An early six off Dane van Niekerk showed that the ball was making contact with the meat of her blade.

Despite her presence, South Africa, through Nadine de Klerk, chipped away at the wickets from the other end. At 103 for 5 at the start of the 17th over, it seemed as if Australia would end up with a total well within the visitors’ reach. But Lanning was still there. She maneuvered the balls into the gaps, running well between the wickets and hitting a couple of fours in the 18th over. Although she only finished with a run-a-ball unbeaten 49, it was worth more than just that.

Nattakan Chantham – 56 vs Pakistan

She may be from one of the associate teams, but Nattakan Chantham’s drives through the off side indicate that she is a class apart. Those who had followed Thailand’s run in international cricket – more so the T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019 – knew what Chantham brought to the table. But it was largely missing in the T20 World Cup… And then came the match against Pakistan.

At the Sydney Showground, Thailand had opted to bat and the first three overs gave an impression of a ‘familiar’ Thailand batting – slow beginning, a struggle to find the fence, a string of dot balls, plays and misses, mistimed hits, et al. But the fourth over changed the narrative.

Anam Amin, into her second over, was carted for four fours in the over – all by Chantham. Her strokes weren’t run-of-the-mill slogs but pristinely timed strokes through the off-side. The way she peppered the fence from long-off to cover came like a breath of fresh air. Chantham’s confident stroke-play rubbed off on her partner Nattaya Boochatham, who also chipped in with a breezy 44.

ALSO READ: Lessons, laughs, leadership and love for the game

Chantham’s play, though, wasn’t only about those gorgeous shots through the off-side. Her supple wrists – not a surprise with Asian players – also helped her access the square leg boundary. It was a shot that saw her register her maiden T20 World Cup half century – the first by a player from Thailand. Her batting exploits helped Thailand post 150 – their highest score ever in T20Is.

Deepti Sharma – 49* vs Australia

Deepti Sharma can bat. Her ODI best of 188 is the highest by any Indian and third-highest in the format. However, despite her high returns in ODIs, Sharma has rarely been used with the bat in the shortest format. However, 2019 has seen her batting improve – more so after her stint with Western Storm in the Women’s Cricket Super League – and she has since been seen as a potential ‘finisher’ for India in the T20Is.

In the opening match of the T20 World Cup, India found themselves in a spot of bother at 47 for 3 in the seventh over when Sharma walked in. In the company of Jemimah Rodrigues, she set about resurrecting the innings. The track at the Sydney Showground wasn’t conducive to hitting big shots, so she worked the ball through the arc between long-on and square leg and kept the scoreboard ticking.

With four overs to go in the innings, with India well set to launch, Rodrigues was dismissed. Despite what seemed like a hiccup, the left-hander carried on in her merry way, nailing a couple of sweeps in the following over off Jess Jonassen to just give India’s innings a bit of a boost. She was on 45 when the final over began and there was a hustle to bring out all the adjectives in anticipation of her maiden half-century. It wasn’t to be as Sharma finished unbeaten on 49 off 46 balls – in the context of the game, a defining innings.

ALSO READ: Shafali Verma, the big-hitting kid on the block

Beth Mooney – 78* vs India

Alyssa Healy’s 39-ball 75 might have taken the Melbourne Cricket Ground by storm in the final of the T20 World Cup, but it was Beth Mooney’s solid unbeaten 78 that provided the perfect ice to Healy’s fire. She was happy to let the wicketkeeper-batter take as much strike as possible at the start.

In the fourth over, Mooney hit one inside-out over covers off Rajeshwari Gayakwad and then was dropped off the next ball by the bowler herself. That and a couple of fours off Shikha Pandey in the next over got her going.

Mooney’s batting against India’s spinners was a delight to watch. Using her feet to get to the pitch of the ball, she often left them in a quandary. The southpaw maintained a balance between attack and defence, making sure the Indians paid the price for giving her a life. She remained unbeaten on 78 to help Australia post 184, effectively batting India out of the contest.

Laura Wolvaardt

Laura Wolvaardt. Period. She batted only twice in the T20 World Cup but those were enough to leave lasting impressions on the minds of those who watched her.

Against Pakistan, Wolvaardt walked in at five, with South Africa 54 for 3 in ten overs. She took her time to settle in before opening up against Pakistan’s bowlers, especially Anam Amin. No big hits, just perfectly timed (and placed) shots over the bowlers’ head and over cover. She finished unbeaten on 53 off just 36 balls, leaving everybody in awe of her powerless bludgeoning.

Then came the next ‘surprise’ – an unbeaten 27-ball 41 versus Australia in the semi-final. South Africa were chasing a DLS target of 98 in 13 overs and appeared to be out of the contest when Wolvaardt walked in at 24 for 3 in the fifth over – Lizelle Lee, Dane van Niekerk and Mignon du Preez all dismissed. She began gauging the nature of the surface by feeling bat on ball, nurdling it around in the gaps for ones and twos.

ALSO READ: Old dog, new tricks

In the eighth over, off Jess Jonassen, Wolvaardt seemed to have mis-hit one. But such was her day, that the ball went all the way over the bowler’s head. An over later, Nicola Carey bore the brunt of Wolvaardt’s class. She made room and carted one over mid-off, before repeating her shot and exploiting the cover region for another boundary.

When Wolvaardt belted a low full toss from Megan Schutt over deep square leg, it seemed as if she would take South Africa home, but alas! It was too much for her eventually. She finished with another unbeaten score, tears in her eyes and lasting memories for those who had witnessed her acts.