Sometimes in cricket, the switch of formats brings the best out of teams and certain players. For example, Meg Lanning had an up and down ODI-leg of the Ashes series – no consistency or rhythm in her batting – but come the T20Is she found her form, blasting a career-best 133 in the first match. On Saturday (September 14), Lanning was at it again when she compiled another match-winning half-century to give Australia a comfortable six-wicket win in the first T20I against West Indies in Barbados.
On the other hand, West Indies would have hoped the shorter format would bring out the best in them. Unfortunately, they had little to cheer about, as their batters collapsed in a heap, just as they had all through the ODI series as well.
None of the hosts’ top order batters – Stafanie Taylor, apart – were able to adapt to the tricky pitch on offer in the first game. The openers did little to trouble the scorers, and the rest simply followed their lead. As has been the case through the series so far, Taylor was the only batter to offer any resistance. She held down one end while the others simply threw away their wickets. It was a case of trying to do too much, rather than simply support their skipper. Taylor would certainly hope for a better show from her top-order batters Kyshona Knight, Britney Cooper and Reniece Boyce in the two remaining games.
Despite their struggles with the bat, West Indies’ bowlers displayed great discipline and patience in their defence of 107. Chinelle Henry was the standout, keeping the ball full and getting it to swing late. She picked up the wickets of Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy in her first two overs – enough to peg Australia’s chase back at the very start. Shabika Gajnabi and Afy Fletcher, too, were economical and supported Henry well. That Australia only managed to chase down the target in the 18th over further underlined what a wonderful job the home team’s bowlers did.
For Australia, Lanning and Megan Schutt were the real stars of the day. The failure of Healy with the bat meant the top order got a chance to get stuck in to the innings early. The Australian captain, combined with Ellyse Perry to guide Australia to a position of strength before her 13th T20I half-century saw the team home.
This dominance from the visitors started on the back of some wonderful bowling – the attack led by Schutt. The right-armer picked up two early wickets to put the hosts under pressure immediately, before the rest of the bowlers tied the batters down. West Indies were unable to recover from that initial jolt and they quietly slumped to 106 for 8 in 20 overs on the back of an unbeaten 44 from Taylor.
While Australia will certainly look to continue on their merry way, West Indies have a fair share of wrongs they need to right. For one, the batters really need to dig deep and pull out something special. They are without doubt staring down the barrel against a dominant Australia. Healy, Perry, and Lanning are in the middle of a golden summer, while Schutt and Jonassen seem have the ball on a string!
Come Monday (September 16), unless something drastic happens, it is hard to see Taylor’s team getting the better of what looks to be an invincible Australian team in the second T20I at Kensington Oval in Barbados.
West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (c), Reniece Boyce, Afy Fletcher, Chinelle Henry, Shamilia Connell, Stacy Ann King, Natasha McLean, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Anisa Mohammed, Karishma Ramharack, Shabika Gajnabi, Sheneta Grimmond.
Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Heather Graham, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham