West Indies converted their maiden appearance in a World Twenty20 final into a historic victory in Kolkata, beating three-time defending champions Australia for the first time in a T20 international by pulling off the second highest chase in the tournament’s history. The heroes of the daunting pursuit were 18-year old Hayley Matthews and the captain Stafanie Taylor, whose half-centuries and 120-partnership came at more than a run a ball.
Their effort left West Indies with two runs to get off four balls, and when Britney Cooper pushed to Megan Schutt at midwicket and sprinted, what should have been a run-out at the bowler’s end resulted in the overthrow that sealed the title. Their team-mates blazed a trail on to the field and the women were soon joined by the West Indies men in joyful celebrations in the middle of Eden Gardens.
Those scenes scarcely seemed likely when West Indies were run ragged in the first half of the game, as half-centuries from Elyse Villani and Meg Lanning helped Australia post an imposing 148 for 5.
However, Matthews and Taylor clinically brought the chase into the realms of possibility. From the 10-over mark, there was an air of inevitability to the chase as Matthews, who combined her big-hitting prowess with delicate dabs, attacked the bowling. She laid into Jess Jonassen, who had conceded only 12 off her first three overs, to turn the tide going into the last seven overs of the chase. Just like that, Australia, who had a fourth title well in their grasp for the first 25 overs of the clash, saw the trophy slipping away as their bowlers, who clinically applied the choke in a similar situation against England, fell apart under pressure.
The West Indies bowlers had also come under severe pressure under the wheel of Villani and Lanning, who made 52 apiece in a dominating batting display. Lanning had enjoyed the best seat in the house as Villani peppered the leg-side field with regularity. Full tosses were swept fiercely, while short balls were pulled with disdain, with as many as six boundaries in the Powerplay overs coming between fine leg and deep square leg. Villani’s aggression helped Australia tide over the dismissal of Alyssa Healy in the second over.
Lanning had slapped her second ball into the point boundary to trigger a blaze of strokes that left West Indies playing catch-up before they could soak in the occasion. Having blasted 54 in the first six overs, Australia were on their way to an imposing total.
Once the head start was achieved, both batsmen negated Anisa Mohammed’s spin threat by milking the bowling. That Taylor employed as many as six bowlers in the first eight overs showed the extent to which Australia had derailed West Indies’ plans.
Dottin had been central to West Indies’ march to the final, not just with the bat but ball too. Her variations in pace and pin-point accuracy at the death had been tough to get away, but her predictability against some serious hitting by Lanning and Villani, who brought up her fifty off just 34 deliveries, failed to put the brakes on the scoring.
West Indies had a wicket against the run of play, when Villani was caught at cover off a leading edge to break a 77-run partnership off just 60 deliveries. But Ellyse Perry provided a surge, and Lanning’s wrists and extraordinary strokes, aided by supreme fitness, threatened to achieve a target beyond West Indies.
Australia brought up 100 in the 14th over as Lanning laid into Dottin by hitting her for three successive fours, two of which pierced a packed off-side field. Once Lanning fell for 52, it was Perry who gave the finishing touches, hitting two sixes in her 28. West Indies, though, fought back to concede just 36 off the last five overs.
Something about the last over of Australia’s innings – they scored only one – fired West Indies up. For the first three overs of the chase, however, Australia put a lid on the scoring, conceding just nine runs. The defending champions began to relax, but Matthews was just getting started, unfurling boundary after boundary to build pressure on Australia.
Halfway through the chase, Lanning called her team into a huddle in a bid to regroup, but to no avail. The wicket of Matthews, who miscued a pull off Kristen Beams to midwicket with West Indies needing 29 off 26 balls, came as relief rather than joy. That allowed Dottin, who had an off day with the ball, a shot at redemption, which she gleefully accepted as West Indies celebrated a historic triumph in style.
(Taken from ESPN Sports Media Ltd.)