#ThrowbackTales: Counting down to the T20 World Cup 2020

Ellyse Perry is 'in the air' after picking up her 100th T20I wicket - that of England's Natalie Sciver. © ICC

Recounting tales from previous editions of the ICC T20 World Cup

ELLYSE PERRY AND A TON OF T20I DISMISSALS

S. Sudarshanan

Milestones in cricket are hard to come by. Bowlers’ cricketing life is generally a short one owing to the stress that the body goes through due to the rigours of the aspect. Wickets are hard to come by these days owing to the size of the boundaries and the bigger bats. Thus, being among the top wicket-takers in the sport is always sweet.

Ellyse Perry got to one of the many landmarks in her career in the final of the Women’s T20 World Cup (then World T20) 2018.

Australia had brushed the West Indies, who were then the defending champions, aside in the semi-finals and were in contention for their fourth title after making the finals. They had a familiar yet formidable opponent in England, who had gotten past India in the semis.

The toss landed in the English side’s favour and they chose to bat. However, their innings failed to take off, thanks to the incessant spell of bowling by the Aussies. Tammy Beaumont (four) and Amy Jones (four) both fell inside the power play, at the end of which England were 36/2 – a far cry from what they would have wanted after winning the toss.

Natalie Sciver had joined Danielle Wyatt in the middle after the fall of the second wicket. She was facing Perry, who was into her third over. Perry bowled a full one that swung in a touch. Sciver made the cardinal sin of playing around it and was trapped in front. The umpire had no hesitation in raising the dreaded finger.

However, Sciver decided to use the DRS, which, unfortunately for her, sounded her death-knell. That was Perry’s 100th wicket in T20Is, making her only the second player to get to the landmark after West Indies’ Anisa Mohammed.

The feat would have tasted sweeter for Perry as Australia first bowled England for 105 and then overhauled the target inside 16 overs to be crowned the champions for the fourth time.

***

WHEN BANGLADESH MADE SRI LANKA GO “OH MY ‘GHOSH’!

Ananya Upendran

April 1, 2014: a day of records for Bangladesh; a day of great celebration. First, they recorded their highest score in T20Is, and then, went on to register their first win in T20 World Cups, beating Sri Lanka in a thriller by three runs at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium.

In their final group game of the tournament, having chosen to bat, Bangladesh were put under the pump straight away, losing a wicket in the very first over. Skipper Salma Khatun (22) and Sharmin Akhter (18) shared a useful partnership to somewhat stabilise the innings before Sri Lanka struck back.

From then on, the hosts continued to lose wickets in pairs – stringing together small partnerships before Sri Lanka halted their momentum. It was Rumana Ahmed’s brisk 34-ball 41 at no.5 that held Bangladesh’s innings together, taking them to a total of 115 for 9 in their 20 overs – their highest total at the time.

Sri Lanka’s chase was rocked early when Hasini Perera fell prey to Jahanara Alam in the second over. However, Yasoda Mendis (33) and Chamari Atapattu (17) got their innings back on track, but a couple of run outs set the cat amongst the pigeons.

At 79 for 3 at the start of the 15th over, Sri Lanka appeared to be meandering to an easy win. Shashikala Siriwardene, the captain, was well set on 19, and had the experience of Chamari Polgampola for company. However, just when it looked like the visitors were running away with the game, Panna Ghosh, the right-arm seamer made her presence felt. Her double strike in the 15th oversaw the back of Polgampola and the big-hitting Eshani Kaushalya, leaving Sri Lanka needing 35 runs in 5 overs… Siriwardene held the key.

Bangladesh held their nerve, bowling tight lines, not allowing Sri Lanka to find the boundary and causing the run-rate to soar. A few tight overs left them needing 13 runs off the final over. Ghosh took the ball; Siriwardene was batting on 31. Bangladesh were in front, but Sri Lanka had the experience.

The right-armer, however, dealt Sri Lanka’s chase a death blow off the very first ball, sending back the Sri Lankan skipper. Maduri Samuddika struck a boundary and scampered a couple of twos, leaving Sri Lanka requiring five runs off the final ball. Ghosh executed her plan perfectly, bowling a full delivery that cost Bangladesh only one run. The hosts thus sealed their second win over Sri Lanka in T20Is. Ghosh finished with figures of 3 for 18 in her four overs.

***

DILUTION OF THE IRISH CORE WITH THE RETIREMENTS OF IRELAND’S FOUR

S. Sudarshanan

Retirements affect teams, more so of players who have been an integral part of the sides for a long time. Strong teams find a way to cope with them, like Australia men’s team in the 2010s. They had good backup for the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Adam Gilchrist and so, didn’t taper off even after their retirements.

Ireland had, pretty much till then, played with either or all of Cecelia Joyce, Isobel Joyce, Clare Shillington and Ciara Metcalfe. But after their final clash in the T20 World Cup 2018 against New Zealand, the quartet hung their boots. While Shillington and Metcalfe had announced that the tournament would be their last, the Joyce sisters announced their decision in the team huddle after the match.

While Shillington is Ireland’s leading run-getter in T20Is, Isobel is second and Cecelia is fifth on the list. In T20 World Cups, the trio are the top three run-scorers for them. In the tournament in 2018, Ireland’s batting failed so much, that only in one match out of four did they manage to cross 100.

Their final match wasn’t a memorable one though. Electing to bat first, Ireland lost Cecelia, who made just one, in the third over. Shillington the was bowled for 12. Isobel, too, had a short stay in the middle, going for a duck as the innings was devoid of any momentum. Eventually, Ireland crawled to 79/9, thanks to Gaby Lewis’ 39.

Leigh Kasperek picked up three wickets, while Lea Tahuhu and Amelia Kerr picked up two each.

New Zealand’s reply was very quick. Sophie Devine led the charge, hitting a 22-ball 51 before being dismissed. She hit seven fours and three sixes in her innings, before falling with the Kiwis on the cusp. Metcalfe, who also was playing her final match, gave away 24 runs in the nine balls she bowled.

The New Zealand team also gave a guard of honours for Shillington and Metcalfe, before the teary-eyed Irish team was told about the Joyce sisters’ retirement. It was, in many ways, the end of an era in Irish cricket.

***

BRUNT’S BRILLIANCE TOO MUCH FOR NEW ZEALAND

Ananya Upendran

2009 was the year of Charlotte Edwards’ England. They had conquered the world by winning the ODI World Cup in Australia, and a few months later in June 2009, they were facing New Zealand (again) with a chance at winning another title – on home soil at that. Only a few months ago the same teams had clashed in the final of the one-day World Cup over in Sydney… Was life giving New Zealand a second chance?

When Edwards won the toss on a calm afternoon at Lord’s and put New Zealand in to bat, it seemed like the perfect start to the day. Katherine Brunt took the new ball and was at her lethal best, ripping through the Kiwi line-up like only she could. The right-arm seamer’s opening burst saw New Zealand crash to 23 for 4 within eight overs – the hopes of a title, quickly slipping through their fingers.

After Laura Marsh had seen the back of Suzie Bates, Brunt bowled the delivery of the day to remove New Zealand skipper Aimee Watkins – their highest run-scorer in the tournament. Having gotten the ball the swing away from the left-handed Watkins through her first over, Brunt got one to hold its linein her second over. A full delivery that pitched on middle and off bringing Watkins forward, straightened just a touch and crashed in to off-stump. The New Zealand skipper was squared up – well and truly beaten! The woodwork went everywhere.

With their skipper gone, New Zealand’s innings was in disarray. Lucy Doolan (caught behind for 14) and Rachel Priest (caught and bowled for 0) were Brunt’s next victims, after which there was no recovering. The Kiwis crawled their way to 85 all out in 20 overs, thanks largely to a patient 19 from Amy Satterthwaite.

Brunt finished with incredible figures of 4-2-6-3, still the best bowling figures in a T20 World Cup final. Fittingly, she was named Player of the Match as England sealed a six-wicket win, and claimed their second World Cup of the year!

***

SRI LANKA’S SECOND WIN OVER INDIA, COURTESY A BATTING MELTDOWN

S. Sudarshanan

India’s journey in the T20 World Cup 2014 didn’t get off to the best of starts as they went down to Sri Lanka in their opening encounter in Sylhet.

Only four players from each side managed to enter double digits, showing how poor the batters from both sides were. Sri Lanka had opted to bat first and lost Yasoda Mendis (13) in the second over itself. Chamari Atapattu carried the innings from the other end, making 43 in 44 balls before being cleaned up by Harmanpreet Kaur.

It took a quick 34 off 29 balls from Eshani Lokusuriyage in the end for Sri Lanka to post 128/8 in their 20 overs. Poonam Yadav, the leg-spinner, picked 2/20 – both in the last over of the innings and was the pick of the Indian bowlers.

The track wasn’t all that bad. After being placed at 57/3 in ten overs, Sri Lanka had managed 71 runs in the last ten overs – 43 in the last five.

But India’s batting couldn’t stand up.

Smriti Mandhana (nine) fell early and Punam Raut (nine) too joined her as India lost two wickets inside the power play. Mithali Raj then followed suit for 16 off 23 and at the halfway stage, India were 54/3.

Jhulan Goswami, promoted to no.4, couldn’t contribute much with the blade, scoring just 11. Kaur (17) and Shikha Pandey (22 off 19) kept the bowlers at bay for a while but it was a futile battle. India crawled to 106/9 in their quota, losing the contest by 22 runs.

Udeshika Prabodhani, Inoka Ranaweera and Maduri Samuddika picked up two wickets each for Sri Lanka.

It was just Sri Lanka’s second win over India, after the one that came in January 2014. Till date, they are to increase their win count against their neighbours.

***

WHEN CHLOE TRYON’S CLOBBERING WAYS GAVE IRELAND ONE OF THEIR BAD DAYS

S. Sudarshanan

Middle order and lower-middle order batters are unlucky, on most occasions. There will be hardly a few of them, who would top the run-scoring charts. They would not be in the running for most of the awards designated for ‘top performers’. And that makes it all the more fun to watch such ‘selfless’ innings from batters who come in late.

Chloe Tryon’s blitz is one of those that had a telling effect, not just on her capabilities, but also in the T20 World Cup in 2014 for South Africa.

The race for the spots in the semis was heating up. South Africa were taking on Ireland, post which, they had to face New Zealand in a must-win contest. Captain Mignon du Preez chose to bat against the Irish side, that had lost two of their games then.

Lizelle Lee (43) and Dane van Niekerk (25) had managed to give them a strong start, a slow one nonetheless, adding 57 runs for the opening wicket. Du Preez (14) and Marizanne Kapp (18) also found the going a tad tough, and when the latter fell, the Proteas were left tottering at 102/4 in 17 overs.

The net run rate would have come into play, given it would have been a three-way dash between South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

That’s when Tryon walked in. What followed then was far, far different from what had transpired till then. Eimear Richardson was the first to bear the brunt of Tryon’s blade. She had wonderful figures of 3-0-18-1 till then. Tryon blasted three fours and a couple of sixes in the over, taking 28 off it.

Sune Luus then hit Elena Tice’s leg breaks for three fours in the over, before Tryon capped it off with a maximum. The final over of the innings then went for 16 as South Africa finished with 165/5 – something that seemed far off just three overs ago. Tryon finished unbeaten on 35 in just 12 balls, hitting three fours and three sixes.

That total eventually proved more than enough for South Africa, who bowled Ireland out for just 79. Shabnim Ismail and van Niekerk picked up three wickets apiece, while Marcia Letsoalo chipped in with a couple.

The win acted as a huge boost to the Proteas’ NRR. Tryon’s knock – 30 runs of which came in boundaries – was etched forever in T20 World Cups’ folklore.

***

WHEN A BAJAN WHIRLWIND STRUCK ST. KITTS AND NEVIS, TAKING SOUTH AFRICA BY STORM

S. Sudarshanan

There’s a thing about knocks in adversity. No wonder Deandra Dottin’s T20I century is still remembered and regarded highly, despite there being very little video of it.

West Indies, playing the opening match of the Women’s T20 World Cup 2010 against South Africa, had been inserted in. They didn’t get off to the best of starts and halfway into the innings, they were tottering at 52/4 with all the top four batters in the hut.

That’s when Dottin walked in…

What then followed in the last ten overs was total carnage at Warner Park, Basseterre in St. Kitts. Dottin took South Africa by storm, blitzing her way to a magnificent hundred. She got to the triple-figure mark in just 38 balls – her last 50 runs coming in just 13 balls. She finished unbeaten on 112 in just 45 balls, hitting seven fours and nine sixes.

Her whirlwind knock helped West Indies post 175/5 in their 20 overs.

In 2007, West Indies and South Africa had clashed in the opening match of the men’s World T20. Chris Gayle had managed a ton then and yet, South Africa had managed to win the match, chasing 206.

Dottin and West Indies, both didn’t want a repeat.

When Shandre Fritz (58) and Cri-zelda Brits (43) were in the middle during their 84-run partnership, it seemed the Proteas would coast to the target. But they were soon run out in quick succession and despite Mignon du Preez’s unbeaten 22 in just 13 balls, South Africa fell short by 17 runs.

Dottin, after her heroics with the bat, struck with the ball as well, sending Susan Benade (14) back cheaply. She finished with 3-0-20-1 and was, unsurprisingly, the player of the match.

***

ALYSSA HEALY AND HER (T20) WORLD (CUP) DOMINATION

S. Sudarshanan

Ups and downs are a part and parcel of sport, as in life. While Alyssa Healy may not be having the best of times with the bat currently, she owned the Women’s T20 World Cup 2018, one that Australia won.

Six matches, five innings, 225 runs, an average of 56.25 at a strike rate of 144.23.

These are not just plain numbers. These are numbers that had impact written all over it. These are numbers in a T20 World Cup. These are numbers that were superior to other batters in the competition.

Australia’s first match in the tourney was against Pakistan. She bludgeoned her way to 48 off just 29 balls. It looked like shed take Pakistan by storm, when she holed out to long on off Aliya Riaz. But the start was enough for Australia to post a decent score, which proved enough for them.

The next team to bear Healy’s brunt was Ireland. They were kept down to a mere 93, and Healy then blazed her way to an unbeaten 56. Australia were home before the tenth over, thanks to the wicketkeeper-batter’s knock that took just 31 balls.

Against New Zealand, she yet again got off to a flier, cutting the pacers, pulling them and smashing the spinners. The result? Yet another half century. The highlight of the knock was that it was belligerent despite her not hitting even a single six in the innings. She had made 53 off just 38 balls.

In the game against India, Healy collided with Megan Schutt when they went for a catch and as a result, she was concussed. That ruled her out of the game thenceforth. But she came back in the next match against West Indies in the semi-final and yet again flew to 46 off just 38 balls before falling to Afy Fletcher.

She had a quiet final by the standards she had set in the tournament, scoring just 22 in 20 balls. But since Australia weren’t chasing a tall score, it didn’t come back to haunt them. Fittingly, the top-scorer of the tournament finished as a part of the title-winning side.

***

WHEN ENGLAND SQUEAKED PAST WEST INDIES BY THE SKIN OF THEIR TEETH

Ananya Upendran

After closing out an incredibly close game against India only a couple of days earlier, England secured another nervous victory over West Indies at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala in the ICC 2016 Women’s World T20 to secure their spot in the semi-final.

Having chosen to bat first on a slow, low surface, West Indies stuttered their way to a total of 108 for 4 on the back of contributions from Stafanie Taylor (35), Shaquana Quintyne (28) and Deandra Dottin (22). England’s bowlers, led by Anya Shrubsole, bowled into the pitch, effectively took pace off the ball and set intelligent fields to make scoring very difficult.

In reply, England got off to a terrific start. Charlotte Edwards and Tammy Beaumont raced out of the blocks crashing nine fours and a six within the power play as England finished the field restrictions on 48 for no loss. They were well ahead of the scoring rate, having reduced the equation to 61 runs required off 84 balls.

The introduction of spin, however, slowed England’s progress severely. Once Afy Fletcher dismissed Beaumont for a 23-ball 31 in the ninth over, West Indies were back in the game. A steady stream of wickets followed, and within the space of six overs, England had been reduced to 83 for 6. All of a sudden, what looked to be a straightforward run chase, had become awfully tricky.

As England entered the final stage of the runs chase, they were left needing eight runs in 12 balls, with four wickets in hand. Natalie Sciver and Katherine Brunt were at the crease. They could have done it with their eyes closed. However, Shaquana Quintyne’s double-strike in the penultimate over left them needing seven runs off six balls with Sciver stuck at the non-striker’s end.

Dottin took the ball for West Indies and conceded two twos off the first two deliveries – Shrubsole scampering back after bunting the ball into the deep. A dot and a wicket followed, and the pressure was back on England – three runs required off two balls with one wicket remaining!

England’s no. 11, Rebecca Grundy walked out to face the music. The pressure was sorely on her. The hopes of a semi-final appearance weighed heavy on her shoulders. Could she deliver?

Dottin delivered a wide before Grundy managed to get off strike with a dab to point. One ball, one run, and Sciver was finally on strike.

Dottin bowled a full delivery outside off-stump, Sciver swung hard and missed. Merissa Aguillera, West Indies’ wicket-keeper, who had come up a few paces in an attempt to stop the batters running a bye, collected the ball and underarmed it to the stumps. Grundy was nowhere in the picture, but the throw was wide! England got home – by the skin of their teeth – and secured their place in the final four.

***

WHEN ELYSE VILLANI’S BEST PROVED TOO MUCH FOR PAKISTAN

S. Sudarshanan

Elyse Villani may not be a part of the Australian side for the T20 World Cup 2020, but this is a game she will always remember and might have fond memories of. It’s a match Pakistan certainly would want to forget.

Focal point – Australia-Pakistan clash. Year – 2014.

There is a thing about attacking openers – they make the viewing experience – that is if you are not a bowler – so much fun with their audacious shots. Australia had got off to a flier, thanks to a 61-run stand at the top between Alyssa Healy (20) and Villani. The latter was the aggressor, making most of the runs in the partnership in quick time.

After Healy’s departure, she was joined by Meg Lanning, whose decision at the toss seemed vindicated. The pair then sent the Pakistan bowlers on a leather hunt throughout their stay in the middle. It lasted for 58 balls but accounted for 104 runs. Lanning then departed for 50 off just 33 balls.

But Villani wasn’t going anywhere. She hit six fours and five sixes in her 54-ball knock, during which she remained unbeaten on 90. Perhaps she would have been a touch disappointed about not getting to the coveted three-figure mark but her innings had the desired effect on Pakistan.

But – credit where due – despite the carnage, due to which Australia posted a humongous 185/2, Anam Amin, the left-arm spinner, and Asmavia Iqbal, the seamer, had an economy rate of less than six runs an over. Iqbal also had a wicket to show, finishing with 1/23.

Pakistan, in riposte, began with a 57-run stand at the top, with both Javeria Khan (27) and Bismah Maroof (28) scoring slowly. Although in terms of runs, they had the start, it was devoid of any kind of momentum. Australia used that opening and managed to restrict Pakistan to just 91/9 – Pakistan had lost nine wickets for just 34 runs.

Sarah Coyte and Ellyse Perry had managed to pick up three wickets each, with Jess Jonassen chipping in with two. Australia, as a result, had managed to upstage Pakistan by 94 runs – the biggest margin in T20 World Cups. By virtue of the win, they had managed to get into the semi-finals.

***

WHEN INDIA FAILED TO MAKE IT TO THE PARTY THEY HAD HOSTED

S. Sudarshanan

It was a perfect start for India in the Women’s T20 World Cup 2016. They began with a thumping win over Bangladesh after posting what was then their highest score in T20Is – 163/5 – courtesy their top order coming good. Then the bowlers (read spinners) led by two-fers by Anuja Patil and Poonam Yadav kept Bangladesh to 91/5.

They were ominous signs for the other sides since India were the hosts, too.

But it all went downhill…

In their next clash against Pakistan, India stuttered and stumbled to 96/7. It was a low total, alright. But there were still hopes of the Indian bowling coming good to keep Pakistan quiet. It wasn’t to be, though. India did all that they could to deny Pakistan, by being economical. But a heavy downpour at the end meant that when the game stopped – with Pakistan at 77/6 in 16 overs – they were two runs ahead of the DLS par score. That’s that.

Then again India’s batting came a cropper versus England in their next clash, which meant they were restricted to just 90/8. Ekta Bisht’s four-wicket haul then spun a web around the English batters, who turned a walk in the park into a trekking mission.

The pitch was partially to blame as, in captain Mithali Raj’s words, “A wicket like this, where the ball is keeping low and turning square, it makes the job of the players very difficult.” But the end result meant that India’s position in the tournament was shaky.

India had been left having to win their final group clash against West Indies and then rely on other results, in order to not miss out on the party they had thrown for others.

Having restricted the Caribbean side to 114/8, the hosts were in with a chance. Harmanpreet Kaur had picked up four wickets while Anuja Patil chipped in with three. The spinners had done their work. It was up to the batters to step up.

This time India’s batters did well – not as well as they would have wanted – to keep themselves in the hunt. They were left needing ten of the final over and five off three balls. However, Deandra Dottin managed to keep her calm and ensured a West Indies win. She had earlier made 45 with the bat, too.

That ended India’s journey in the T20 World Cup 2016. There was much promise around the campaign as they had performed well in games leading up to the tourney, including a T20I series win in Australia. However, at the big stage, they had failed to turn up.

***

WHEN SHRUBSOLE’S HAT-TRICK WAS TOO MUCH FOR SOUTH AFRICA

Ananya Upendran

Hat-tricks are hard to come by. Even more so in T20 cricket. Which explains why only 17 players in the history of the game have taken hat-tricks across 843 T20Is. That’s a hat-trick close to every 50 matches! (Numbers as on February 9, 2020).

In the 2018 ICC Women’s World T20 in the West Indies, Anya Shrubsole became only the tenth woman to take a T20I hat-trick when her triple strike helped close out South Africa’s innings for a meagre 85.

On another overcast evening at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in St. Lucia, South Africa won the toss and chose to bat. An overly defensive approach with the willow coupled with an incredible spell by Natalie Sciver (4-1-4-3) saw South Africa slip to 30 for 4 within the first 10 overs. Although Shrubsole too had the ball on a string, getting it to curve in to the right-handers, bowling as many as 11 dot balls, she was unable to pick up a wicket in her first two overs.

Having returned to the attack in the 16th over, she went on to concede seven runs before taking the ball to deliver the final over of the innings. At that point, South Africa had collapsed to 85 for 7 and were not really in the hunt, but sadly for them, the carnage wasn’t yet over!

The first ball of the 20th over – Shrubsole angled a delivery in to the stumps and cleaned up left-handed Shabnim Ismail, who was looking to create room to flail one through the off-side. The next ball saw Masabata Klaas swipe across the line against the right-armer’s trusted slower ball only to get a leading edge that ballooned to Tammy Beaumont at point.

At 85 for 9, Moseline Daniels walked out to the middle, but luckily for her she was camped at the non-striker’s end, watching intently while Yolanie Fourie settled in to her stance to face the music.

It went something like this:

19.3 overs: Shrubsole to Fourie, 105 kmph. Shrubsole trundles in from over the wicket and hits a hard length. Fourie swipes furiously across the line, but her powerful pull shot only unsettles the air around her as the ball slips under the blade and crashes into leg stump! That’s it! There’s the hat-trick! Shrubsole raises her arms in exultation and is enveloped by her teammates.

Shrubsole, who had remained wicket-less in what was a testing first spell, finished the day with figures of 3.3-1-11-3 as England chased down the total of 86 in 14.1 overs with seven wickets to spare, thereby sealing their place in the semi-final.

***

MEG LANNING AND SARAH COYTE HELP AUSTRALIA TO A HAT-TRICK OF TITLES

S. Sudarshanan

Australia had won the T20 World Cup in 2010 and 2012. And they made it to the final in 2014 as well. Now they were in with a realistic chance of winning a hat-trick of titles.

England were put in to bat and they couldn’t get any momentum with the bat. Charlotte Edwards (13) was the first to depart leaving England at 23/1 inside the power play. After resisting for a while Sarah Taylor was out, adjudged LBW while reverse sweeping a Sarah Coyte ball.

England didn’t have the best of base for the final assault – 56/2 in 10 overs, which soon became 58/3 with Lydia Greenway’s departure. The second half of the innings was worse as they eventually could finish with just 105/8.

Sarah Coyte was the pick of the bowlers with 3/16 while Ellyse Perry (2-13) and Rene Farrell (2-27) chipped in with a couple apiece.

In reply, Australia may have lost Jess Jonassen (15) early but skipper Meg Lanning ensured that they never lost their way. She added 60 runs with Ellyse Perry for the third wicket to leave Australia on the cusp. She hit four fours and two sixes in her 30-ball 44 knock.

Perry remained unbeaten on 31 to finish the ‘three-peat’, stamping Australia’s authority yet again. No stat signifies their dominance better than this – Australia hit four sixes in the clash, as opposed to none by England.

***

WHEN MIGHTY MIGNON TOOK SOUTH AFRICA TO THE SEMIS

S. Sudarshanan

South Africa had come into the T20 World Cup 2014, admittedly, as underdogs. But a huge win over Ireland in the group stage boosted their chances of making the semi-finals. They now had only a final hurdle – to overcome New Zealand.

Suzie Bates opted to bat first and New Zealand got off to a solid start when she, along with Sophie Devine, added 41 for the opening wicket. Even after Bates’ (16) fall, they were comfortably placed at 70/1 in the 13th over. That is when things began to go haywire for the Kiwis.

Marizanne Kapp began picking up wickets and got good support from Dane van Niekerk’s leg spin from the other end. Kapp picked three wickets for just 23 runs, including that of the top-scorer Devine (40) and put the brakes on New Zealand’s progress. The Bates-led team ended up losing seven wickets for just 44 runs and finished at 114/8.

Mignon du Preez led the South African reply from the front, walking in at 16/2. She first added 36 with van Niekerk (23) before then combining with Kapp (23) for a 54-run partnership that pretty much sealed the deal.

In the interim, du Preez also made a half century, before being run out for 51. It was her second fifty-plus score in a T20 World Cup match, and since then, no Protea batter has, to date, crossed the landmark. The win meant that South Africa entered the semi-finals for the first time.

***

DEANDRA’S DOT(T)IN(G) SPELL CONFOUNDS BANGLADESH

S. Sudarshanan

Some spells, some shots, some knocks… They have the ability to leave viewers as much spellbound, if not more, than the opposition themselves. One such spell of bowling is Deandra Dottin’s act in the T20 World Cup 2018.

Bangladesh had won the toss and inserted West Indies in. It seemed to be the right call as the Caribbean side found it tough to get going. Only three batters – Stafanie Taylor (29), Natasha McLean (11) and Kycia Knight – entered double digits. They owed it to Knight’s 24-ball 32 for managing to cross 32, with Jahanara Alam picking up three wickets.

In riposte, Bangladesh didn’t have the best of starts. At the end of the eight overs, the Asian side found itself tottering at 28/3. To make matters worse for them, Dottin was then brought into the attack.

Dottin may not be the quickest, but with her seam movement and change of pace, she did the Bangladesh batters in. She first banged one in on the second ball which caused discomfort to Fargana Hoque. She went for the pull, only to top edge it and for Dottin to catch it running backwards. One ball later, she got one to nip back in that went through the gap between bat and pad of Nigar Sultana. It was a double-wicket maiden to start for the Bajan.

In her next over, Dottin let out a full and fast ball outside off, clearly taking Rumana Ahmed by surprise. She was a tad late in the stroke, chopping it on as a result. At 35/6 then, Bangladesh were well and truly out of the game.

But Dottin wasn’t done.

A ball later, she landed one around the good length area and got the ball to hold its line. Lata Mondal ended up playing inside the line, only to find the woodwork disturbed. Dottin was up and running in celebration. Her fifth wicket would surely have made her proud, if the first four really didn’t, that is. She let out a full and straight one in line of the middle stump, which proved to be too good for Salma Khatun. That was Dottin’s fifth wicket in the innings.

She ended the game with figures of 3.4-1-5-5, which were the best figures by a West Indies player in T20Is. The effort also bettered Sune Luus best of 8/5 from the 2016 edition to become the best figures in T20 World Cups.

The spell and the win meant that West Indies had begun their title defense in right earnest.

***

WHEN NEW ZEALAND RAN INTO HAR’TON’PREET KAUR

Ananya Upendran

Ahead of the opening match of the first ever standalone ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in the Caribbean in 2018, there was a great deal of anticipation. India – yet to master the shortest format, and, at best, dark horses – were pit against perennial bridesmaids New Zealand at the Providence Stadium in Guyana.

Having elected to bat on a true surface, India got off to a terrible start, falling to 40 for 3 within the power play before Harmanpreet Kaur joined hands with Jemimah Rodrigues. While the former took her time to settle in, cautiously collecting five runs off 13 deliveries, young Rodrigues took the pressure off her skipper, finding the boundary early in her innings.

After suitably getting her ‘eye in’, Kaur then launched an assault that would leave New Zealand shell-shocked. A juicy full-toss delivered by Jess Watkin, the off-spinner, that Kaur sent sailing over the mid-wicket boundary, and the Indian captain had suddenly switched gears. Nine off 14 and there was no looking back.

Kaur climbed into New Zealand’s attack – treating both pace and spin with utter disdain. She used her feet to come down the track and hit the spinners over the straight field, went down on her knee and pulled out her favourite slog sweep, and even peppered the extra cover boundary with her glorious cover drives – both lofted and over the top. With a strong wind blowing across the ground, she was smart enough to use it to her advantage – constantly changing her hitting areas to suit the wind. She was most severe on young Watkin, taking her for 27 runs off just seven deliveries.

Kaur first raced to 50 off just 33 deliveries before raising her century – the first by an Indian in T20Is – off her 49th ball. Battling back issues and stomach cramps, she clobbered seven fours and a whopping eight sixes on her way to a 51-ball 103. Along the way, she shared an incredible 134-run stand – the highest partnership for any wicket for India in T20Is – with Rodrigues who finished with a splendid 45-ball 59.

Kaur’s incredible display of power allowed India to post a mammoth 194 for 5 – the highest total in T20 World Cups. They eventually went on to beat New Zealand by 34 runs, kicking off their campaign in wonderful style.

***

WHEN PERRY’S ‘GOLDEN BOOT’ WON AUSTRALIA THE T20 WORLD CUP

S. Sudarshanan

For those who are familiar with football terminologies, ‘Golden Boot’ is something players vie for at the end of a season or competition. It is awarded to the highest goal scorer of the season.

Ellyse Perry holds the distinction of being the only Australian to play a cricket as well as a football World Cup. No wonder ‘Perry’s boot’ has an appearance in cricket.

It was the final of the Women’s T20 World Cup 2010 (then World T20). Australia had opted to first and the toss seemed to be the only thing going in their favour as their batters found the going tough. Shelley Nitschke (3), Elyse Villani (6) and Alex Blackwell (zero) were all back in the dug-out inside the power play with barely 20 runs on the board.

Then Leah Poulton (20) and Jess Duffin (14) who strung together 30 runs together also followed suit. A 13-ball 18 knock by Lisa Sthalekar towards the end made Australia crawl and post 106/8. Nicola Browne (2/11) and Sophie Devine’s (2/21) spell was too hot to handle for the Aussies.

But defending what was a low score, Australia had New Zealand on the mat at 24/3 inside the first six overs, with Aimee Watkins (2), Sarah McGlashan (1) and Suzie Bates dismissed. Devine held fort in the middle and along with Browne (20) brought New Zealand closer.

Australia held the aces with New Zealand needing 14 off the final over. Perry was the one to bowl it. The four deliveries after the first ball, that went for a single, went for two runs each. Now five runs were needed for the Kiwis to win, four for a tie.

Devine was on strike… Anything less than a boundary would have worked for Perry.

Perry bowled it full and Devine drove it back hard. It was hit dead straight, meaning lesser chance for the fielders to cut it off. But it didn’t have to go that far. Perry stuck her right leg out and ended up parrying it to mid-on for just one. New Zealand could get just a sole run and Australia ended up winning by a mere three runs. Undoubtedly, the Aussie allrounder was adjudged the player of the match for her 3/18.

David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo are known to have had insurance just for their their legs; it barely would have been surprising had Perry chose to do something similar.

***

TAYLOR-MORGAN ONE TWENTY ‘TWO’ GOOD FOR AUSTRALIA

S. Sudarshanan

It was the big stage. The semi-final of the inaugural Women’s T20 World Cup (then World T20 in 2009). The Aussies had the upper hand in Australia-England clashes then, winning three of three games then. Naturally, you wouldn’t have won a dime for guessing who were the favourites then.

Put in to bat, Australia posted a tall 163/5 on the back of a strong 78-run partnership in nine overs. Shelley Nitschke, Leah Poulton, Lisa Sthalekar and Karen Rolton got starts, enough for the Aussies to post a total that prima facie seemed enough.

In riposte, England didn’t have the start they would have liked. They lost Sarah Taylor (6) in the third over and soon were 43/2 as even skipper Charlotte Edwards was bounced out by Ellyse Perry for 25 in the seventh over. It seemed the writing was on the wall for another Australian win.

But Claire Taylor and Beth Morgan had other ideas. They managed to take 23 off the next three overs, bringing the equation down to England needing 98 in the last ten overs. The duo then managed to get an average of one boundary an over for the next four overs, before teeing off in the 15th, which went for 12.

With 44 needed in the final five overs, England could believe. Taylor soon crossed the fifty-run mark and the changed gears. Morgan, in the interim, took special liking to Kirsten Pike’s pace, taking 11 runs off the 18th over, including hitting two fours. That pretty much sealed it, before Taylor, fittingly, hit the winning boundary.

While Taylor, who was the Player of the Tournament in England’s World Cup win earlier that year, finished unbeaten on 76 off just 53 balls, Morgan played the perfect second fiddle with an undefeated 34-ball 46. The duo had strung an unconquered 122-run partnership, which was the highest in Women’s T20 World Cups, before being eclipsed by the 163-run stand by South Africa’s Lizelle Lee and Dane van Niekerk in 2014.

***

WHEN THE RESULT IN AN INDIA-PAKISTAN TIE WASN’T AS PER THE NORM

Ananya Upendran

In the women’s game, through the early 2000s, India’s dominance over Pakistan was unquestioned.  Until 2012, the women in blue had thrashed Pakistan in seven ODIs and two T20Is – their smallest margin of victory across formats, five wickets. Therefore, when both teams met in the league stage of the 2012 ICC Women’s World T20 in Sri Lanka, few would have predicted a Pakistan win. However, what proceeded to happen left much of the cricketing world absolutely stunned.

Having already been knocked out of the tournament, India and Pakistan clashed in a dead rubber at the Galle International Stadium. Sana Mir won the toss and Pakistan and chose to bat on a typically slow sub-continent surface.

On the back of 20-somethings from Mir (26) – who opened the innings – and Nain Abidi (25), Pakistan posted a total of 98 for 9. For India, Jhulan Goswami and the off-spin duo of Rasanara Parwin (on debut) and Anuja Patil picked up two wickets apiece.

While the total may have been par considering the conditions, it was expected that India’s powerful batting line up would chase it down with ease. 

After the fall of Sulakshana Naik in the fourth over of the innings, Punam Raut and Mithali Raj shared a 31-run stand, steering India to a score of 44 just short of the halfway mark. However, that was when Pakistan’s spin pair of Nida Dar and Bismah Maroof began to tighten the screws. In their combined spell of eight overs, the pair conceded only 30 runs, taking five wickets along the way.

Maroof’s double strike in the penultimate over left India needing 14 runs off the final six balls.

It was Mir who took the ball at that stage with Niranjana Nagarajan facing up to her. The fast bowling allrounder struck a boundary off the first ball before racing between the wickets to collect two singles and two twos leaving India needing four runs off the final ball… The pressure was firmly on Nagarajan. Pakistan held all the aces.

Mir speared the ball in to the right hander’s legs and Nagarajan managed to squeeze it past square leg for two. She certainly wouldn’t get a boundary, but could India scamper three?

Alas! It wasn’t to be! Asmavia Iqbal collected the ball and fired it in to Batool Fatima, the wicket-keeper, who then threw it to the non-striker’s end where Mir was waiting right over the stumps to take off the bails as Nagarajan lunged desperately to complete the third run. She was caught marginally short.

Pakistan thus registered what would be their first victory (across formats) over India by the skin of their teeth – just one run! It was their moment in the sun, and a day to forget for India.

***

JAHANARA ALAM AND THE ‘IMAGE OF THE TOURNAMENT

Ananya Upendran

There are some visuals that are etched in our minds forever. These pictures tell the story of an entire game – even if they only capture the expressions of one person. Think of epic moments in men’s cricket in recent times and a visual of a stunned Stuart Broad pops to your mind. His incredible spell of 8 for 15 that ripped through Australia in Trent Bridge in 2015 included a stunning catch by Ben Stokes that left everyone – including the bowler – amazed.

The ICC Women’s World T20 2018 in the Caribbean had one such moment on the very first day. In the final game on day one, involving Bangladesh and West Indies, at Providence Stadium in Guyana, Jahanara Alam’s inspiring spell of 3 for 23 helped restrict the hosts to 106 for 8. Her haul included an outstanding grab off the final ball of the innings to dismiss Kycia Knight – one that had everyone screaming ‘OH. MY. GOD!’

Having elected to bowl, the visitors had West Indies on the ropes at 23 for 3 the within the first six overs – Alam accounting for the two big wickets of Hayley Matthews and Deandra Dottin.

When she came back in to the attack for her final over, West Indies were stuttering at 97 for 6 in 19 overs. Alam could smell blood. She was bowling with good pace and great control. She owned the day.

Facing up to her was left-hand batter Kycia Knight, whose innings of 32 had helped get the hosts back on track. Knight and Anisa Mohammed combined to take eight runs off the first four balls of the over, before Bangladesh struck back. First, Fahima ran out Mohammed off the penultimate delivery, before Alam’s ‘Play of the Day’.

Delivering the final ball of the innings from over the wicket, Alam speared in a full delivery on off stump. Knight, who had walked across her stumps looking to access the on-side, top edged the ball whilst trying to slog. Her wild heave saw the ball go straight up in the air. Alam charged down the pitch, for an instant taking her eyes off it – without slowing down – to check whether any of her teammates were trying to get to the ball too. As the ball hurtled down from the dark night sky, Alam realised she had over-run it and stuck out her left hand, more in hope than expectation, only to see it settle comfortably in her palm. The fast bowler looked up in disbelief, her eyes wide, mouth open, gaping at what an extraordinary catch she had pulled off!

Although Bangladesh went on to lose the match – thanks to Deandra Dottin’s record breaking spell – Alam’s catch went on to become one of the images of the tournament.

***

CHAMARI’S ‘BAT, BALL & FIELD’ DAY TOO MUCH FOR SOUTH AFRICA AT CHINNASWAMY

Ananya Upendran

In 2016 Women’s T20 World Cup, Sri Lanka and South Africa were sitting in the middle of the Group A table with only one win in three matches – both registering victories over Ireland. Coming in to their final game of the tournament, both teams were desperately searching for their second win – it was a matter of pride. In the absence of Shashikala Siriwardene (ruled out of the tournament with a torn hamstring), South Africa – semi-finalists from the previous edition – were favourites going in to the game at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.

Having won the toss and elected to bat, Sri Lanka’s stand in skipper, Chamari Atapattu, got off to a quick start. While she maintained a cautious approach against the off-spin of Yolanie Fourie, the left-hander blasted three boundaries off the pair of Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail in the space of ten deliveries, to get her innings underway. She stayed leg-side of the ball, creating room to blast it through the off-side – holding the pose every time she hit the gap!

Following the dismissal of Dilani Manodara in the ninth over, Atapattu, held herself back ever so slightly. However, with the introduction of the leg-spinning duo of Dane van Niekerk and Sune Luus – held back until the 12th over of the innings – she picked up the pace again. Happy with the ball spinning in to her, the left-hander danced down the track and peppered the leg-side boundary, carting van Niekerk for a four and six off consecutive deliveries. She had raced to 44 off 42 balls and was holding Sri Lanka’s innings together.

Over the course of the next four overs, South Africa starved Atapattu of the strike, allowing her to face only six of the 24 balls delivered. She brought up her maiden T20I half-century with a dab down to third man and a hurried couple of runs, before celebrating with a clenched fist, and a look to the heavens.

Despite her dismissal in the 17th over – run out by Kapp in her follow through – Atapattu’s 49-ball 52 that laid the foundation to Sri Lanka’s under-par 114 for 7, her exceptional spell of 1 for 12, and her run out of van Niekerk would be the difference between both the sides. South Africa went on to lose the match by a margin of 10 runs, ending their disappointing campaign with only one win to their credit.

***

THE MEG(A) TON THAT MADE IRELAND’S (P)LANNING GO HAYWIRE

S. Sudarshanan

There will be few games that will show the dominance of one batter than the Australia-Ireland clash in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2014.

Focal incident – A boisterous ton. Player in Spotlight – Meg Lanning.

Opting to bat first, Australia had lost Alyssa Healy (21) early in the piece. Captain Lanning walked in as early as the third over. That was perhaps the only phase in which Ireland were in control as, since then, it was time for Sylhet to witness the Meg(a) Lanning show.

First, in the company of Delissa Kimmince, the Australian skipper added 86 in quick time, with Kimmince contributing a mere 35. Then she joined hands with Alex Blackwell to pummel the Irish bowlers to all parts of the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium to raise 83 for the third wicket. Out of that, Blackwell had scored just 12.

Lanning was severe on all the bowlers and Elena Tice, the leg-spinner, was the only one to come out of the carnage with a respectable economy rate of 6.25. Hitting 18 fours and four sixes, Lanning got to her maiden T20I ton – only the second in T20 World Cups and the highest score in the history of the competition till date. Moreover, it was then the second-best score in T20Is across gender, only behind Australia’s Aaron Finch’s 156.

On the back of her ton, Australia had posted a humongous 191/4, which eventually was 78 too many for Ireland. Lanning’s 126 of just 65 balls in that game, which was then the highest individual score in women’s T20Is, was then bettered thrice in 2019 – first by Sterre Kalis, who made an unbeaten 126, then by Lanning herself with a 133 against England, which was eventually surpassed by Alyssa Healy’s unbeaten 148 against Sri Lanka.

***

WHEN PRIYANKA ROY’S FIVE PUT PAKISTAN IN A HIVE

S. Sudarshanan

It was an India versus Pakistan game – not as hyped up as the men’s version of the contest actually is. It was the first T20 World Cup in 2009.

Pakistan, then led by Sana Mir, opted to bat first in Taunton. The start was anything but decent. They ended up losing their top order for just 42 runs in the first ten overs. And yet, India didn’t relent.

There’s attack and then there’s more attack. And then there was Priyanka Roy. The last ten overS of the innings belonged to her. She spun a vicious web around the middle and the lower-middle order to bowl Pakistan out for a mere 75.

Roy ended up picked up five wickets for just 16 runs, which was the first five-wicket haul in T20 World Cups. It was a tremendous achievement for a leg-spinner who was just playing her second T20 international. Javeria Khan and Mir were among her scalps in the match.

Needless to say, India romped home to a five-wicket win, with Anjum Chopra being unbeaten on 37. Roy was awarded the player of the match for her feat.

***

THE START THAT DIDN’T END: LEE, VAN NIEKERK TAKE PAKISTAN TO THE CLEANERS

Ananya Upendran

The 2014 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 in Bangladesh was South Africa’s best tournament by far. While most remember it for their remarkable run to the semi-final when skipper Mignon du Preez’s half-century helped oust New Zealand from the competition, South Africa’s campaign that year got off to a record-breaking start thanks to their opening duo of Dane van Niekerk and Lizelle Lee.

In their opening match of the tournament against Pakistan at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium, South Africa were put in to bat having lost the toss. It was a decision Sana Mir, then Pakistan skipper, would go on to rue, as the duo blasted their way to an unbeaten 163-run stand – the highest opening partnership in T20 World Cup matches.

Opening the batting for the first time together, van Niekerk and Lee piled on the misery as Pakistan’s bowlers toiled away unsuccessfully through the innings. While the former crashed 13 fours and a six on her way to an unbeaten 66-ball 90 – her maiden T20I half-century – Lee remained unconquered on 67 off 55 balls including eight fours and a six.

Of the six bowlers they used through the innings, only Sumaiyya Siddiqi, Pakistan’s right-arm pacer, was able to trouble South Africa’s opening pair, conceding only 21 runs in her quota of four overs. In stark contrast, Mir’s off-spin was carted around the park. She proved to be the most expensive bowler, finishing with figures of 0 for 35 in her three overs.

In reply to South Africa’s mammoth 163 for 0, Pakistan stuttered to a total of 119 for 9, falling to a 44-run defeat. Du Preez’s team thus got their campaign off to a record-breaking start!

***

LOW VOLTAGE, HIGH-OCTANE START TO T20 WORLD CUPS

S. Sudarshanan

It was a step into the unknown – the first ever match of the Women’s T20 World Cup (then World T20). The anticipation was high but not for the opening match. Hosts England were to play India in the second match. But the thrill was provided by the first game – the global tournament had begun well.

At the outset, the contest was a mismatch on paper and hence the low interest rate was understandable. South Africa were to take on West Indies. An 18-year-old Stafanie Taylor took first strike after West Indies chose to bat. She was facing Ashlyn Kilowan, who was in the last leg of her career.

West Indies began well through Taylor and Pamela Lavine, who added 44 for the opening wicket. Once that partnership was broken, though, the brakes were applied. The middle order couldn’t contribute a great deal, thanks to Shabnim Ismail (2-20) and Dane van Niekerk (2-26) and Taylor was left waging a lone battle. She brought up a half century and was eventually out in the last over, helping West Indies post 123 for 7.

South Africa, in riposte, didn’t start well with the bat, regularly losing wickets upfront. Shakera Selman (1-10) and Debbie-Ann Lewis (2-23) struck the initial blows while Anisa Mohammed’s (2-16) strikes in the middle reduced the Proteas to 83 for 6, including that of Mignon du Preez for 38.

Skipper Sunette Loubster took them closer but it wasn’t to be. Eventually, South Africa fell three runs short of West Indies’ score. The vagaries of the shortest format had come to the fore in the very first game of the T20 World Cup. The young Taylor was adjudged player of the match for her efforts with the bat as well as her 1-28 with the ball.

***

EKTA BISHT HAT-TRICK ENSURES INDIA’S QUALIFICATION FOR WORLD T20 2014

S Sudarshanan

The fact that the list of people having hit fifties or hundreds is longer than that of players picking up hat-tricks goes to show which is tougher, though both need their own skill-sets. Moreover, when the world is watching, the magnanimity of every achievement rises manifold.

Case in point – T20 World Cup hat-trick. Player in focus – Ekta Bisht.

India had lost all their matches in the group stage of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2012. They were then facing the last team from Group B, Sri Lanka, in what was to be a qualifier match for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2014.

Despite the aura of Sri Lanka not being one of the strongest, the tournament was in their backyard and they had opted to bat against India in the qualifier at the Nondescripts Cricket Club Ground in Colombo. The start was far from ideal, though, for Sri Lanka.

Bisht got in the action straightaway, albeit not with ball, running Prasadani Weerakkody out in the third over for six. Through Chamari Atapattu (28) and Shashikala Siriwardene (23) Sri Lanka inched towards the 100-run mark before losing both of them.

Then came the main act… the record haul.

Bisht, who bowled her first two overs in the power play and then another one in the 14th of the innings, had figures of 3-0-14-0. She was entrusted with the final over of the innings with Sri Lanka at 97 for 4 with Yasoda Mendis having faced 13 balls for ten and Dilani Manodara on a run-a-ball eight. With a spinner bowling the final over, the hosts could have hoped to finish on a high.

But Bisht was no normal spinner. On the second ball, she sent back Manodara for ten, then caught Mendis off her own bowling before dismissing Eshani Lokusuriyage for a duck to complete her treble.

On the next ball she also ran out Sandamali Dolawatte as India had managed to pick up four wickets in four balls, that resulted in Sri Lanka finishing with 100 for 8. Bisht finished with figures of 4-0-16-3. India then completed the chase with ease, thereby qualifying for the T20 World Cup 2014.

Bisht’s feat was the first in a T20 World Cup match and only the second in all women’s T20Is. She is also the first Indian – across genders – to pick up a hat-trick in T20Is.

***

WHEN ONLY A SIX SEPARATED AUSTRALIA AND ENGLAND

S Sudarshanan

There is no better example of a see-saw contest than the tied contest in the World T20 2010 between Australia and England at Warner Park in St. Kitts.

In the second match of the tournament, England batted first and were bowled out for 104, thanks to Lisa Sthalekar’s 3/29. The off-spinner’s haul included the top-scorer of the game, Sarah Taylor’s wicket too, who made 46 off 44 balls.

Australia had lost two early wickets in their chase of 105, but Leah Paulton (23) and Alex Blackwell (seven) resurrected the innings to bring them to 2/44. It seemed as if Australia would canter home. But it wasn’t to be.

Danielle Hazell sent back Blackwell and that triggered a collapse which saw Australia lose five wickets for just 19 runs to be reduced to 7/63. Alyssa Healy (15) and Sthalekar (10) then added 23 before both fell, leaving the Aussies reeling at 9/97.

With just eight needed for a win, Charlotte Edwards took the responsibility of bowling the final over. The game seemed to further slip away from them as Rene Farrell took six off the first two balls, before getting run out on the fourth to tie the game.

That the tussle between both sides were nip and tuck was asserted from the fact that they ended up with two for six in the one-over eliminator, too. Eventually Australia were adjudged winners based on the sixes count – Jess Duffin had hit the only six of the match during her knock of 12.

The win pretty much set it up for Australia, who were unbeaten throughout the competition, winning the title then.

***

SUNE’S SENSATIONAL SPELL SLAUGHTERS IRELAND

Ananya Upendran

In 2016, at only 20 years of age, Sune Luus recorded the best figures in Women’s T20 World Cups when she ripped through the Ireland batting line-up to finish with five wickets for eight runs in her four over spell. It was the first of two five-fors the leg-spinner has taken through her T20I career so far.

On a slow, dusty surface in Chennai, defending a mammoth 157, Luus took the ball in the 12th over, and struck immediately. She dismissed then Ireland skipper Isobel Joyce for a run-a-ball 22, to trigger a huge collapse. From 66 for 3 in 12 overs after the fall of Joyce, Ireland slipped to 85 for 9 in 18 overs at the end of Luus’ spell.

The leg-spinner went on to dismiss the quartet of Laura Delany, Robyn Lewis, Kim Garth and Lucy O’Rielly to derail Ireland’s chase. She picked up wickets in each of her four overs, striking twice in her first two overs and three times over the next two. Luus bowled as many as 16 dot balls, conceding only eight singles through her quota of overs.

South Africa eventually won the game by a mammoth margin of 67 runs – their only win in the tournament that year – with Luus deservedly being adjudged Player of the Match. Her figures of 5 for 8 stood as the best in ICC Women’s T20 World Cups until Deandra Dottin’s extraordinary spell of 5 for 5 against Bangladesh in 2018.

***

SO NEAR, YET SO FAR: INDIA COLLAPSE LIKE A PACK OF CARDS

Ananya Upendran

India went into the 2018 ICC Women’s World T20 as dark horses. Not many – if any – believed they would really challenge for a place in the final. However, their performances through the round games changed that perception completely. Ahead of the semi-final against England, they went in as marginal favourites having registered convincing wins through the group stage, even defeating Australia with ease.

On the day of the semi-final, India made a controversial call, dropping Mithali Raj from the final XI, indicating their desire to fill the line-up with young, attacking batters. It was a bold call in a high-pressure game – one that eventually back-fired on them.

Having won the toss, Smriti Mandhana got India off to a terrific start, continuing her splendid form as she smashed England’s opening bowlers around the park. India raced to 43 in the power play before the left-hander was sent back to the pavilion. It was then that England were allowed back into the game – first they slowed the run rate, and then caused a collapse of mammoth proportions.

From 88 for 2 in the 14th over, India lost eight wickets for 23 runs to be dismissed for 112 in the final over – the trio of Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole and Sophie Ecclestone taking seven wickets between them.

Despite a couple of early setbacks – England were reduced to 24 for 2 within five overs – the 2009 champions cantered home on the back of unbeaten fifties from Amy Jones and Sciver.

For India, it was a loss that would haunt them for the next few months – another chance at a world title snatched from their fingers.

***

MATTHEWS’ HEROICS DENIES AUSTRALIA THE ‘FOUR-PEAT’

S Sudarshanan

The year – 2016. The central figure– Hayley Matthews.

In only her second year of international cricket, and her first ICC event – let alone the first World T20 final– an 18-year-old Matthews’ inspired innings led to the downfall of on the the best teams in the world. Written off even before a ball had been bowled, an unfancied West Indies demolished defending champions Australia by eight wickets to deny them their fourth World T20 title in a row.

Australia had batted first and posted 148 runs on the board – a challenging total without doubt. Against their bowling attack – comprising Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt and Rene Farrell, among others – and with West Indies’ unpredictable, somewhat fragile line-up, the target looked insurmountable. But Matthews had other plans.

Schutt, who often had batters re-thinking over their skillsets because of the lethal inswing she possesses, was reduced to an ordinary seam bowler… Or a spinner for that matter! For, Matthews’ first six of the innings was via a shimmy down the track to Schutt, belting her over deep mid-wicket. She had meted out similar treatment to Rene Farrell earlier, using her feet and thumping her over mid-off, mid-on as well as to the mid-wicket fence.

Her onslaught meant that she brought up her maiden T20I half century off just 35 balls, making sure West Indies were always well ahead of the required rate. When the teenager was eventually dismissed for a 45-ball 66, West Indies were comfortably placed at 120 for 1 inside 16 overs. She had laid the foundation for what would be one of the most significant wins in their history.