Sunday, April 21, 2024

Aussie women take crown


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THE THRILLING finish that was missing from the men’s ICC World Twenty20 final was provided for the women’s version last night.In a match that went down to the wire, Australia prevailed in a tense conclusion, beating New Zealand by three runs under the lights at Kensington Oval.If this was expected to be something of an anti-climax, it was far from and it came down to the very last ball to decide the outcome.The match might have lacked consistent big-hitting, but there was plenty of excitement during the last two overs that made it a contest to remember.New Zealand, chasing 107 to win, hardly appeared to be in the match for most of their response, but after a big penultimate over in which Sophie Devine lashed a four down the ground and a six over cow corner off successive balls, the match suddenly came to life with 14 runs needed from the final over.A single came off the first ball against fast bowler Clea Smith and Devine was good enough to manage four successive twos, the last of which she was denied a four from a magnificent diving save on the point boundary by Shelly Nitschke.Had Nitschke not stopped the ball, New Zealand would have needed three off the final delivery to win and two to send the match into a Super Over decider.Instead, five were needed off the last ball and a firm straight drive that might have had the potential for a boundary was partially stopped by the bowler’s foot on her follow through.As Devine ran through for a single, she dropped to the ground in disappointment and Australia celebrated the title that had eluded their men’s team earlier in the day when they were soundly beaten by England.While Australia avoided the double disappointment on the day, New Zealand endured a second successive defeat in the women’s final after losing to England at last year’s event.It was Australia’s sixth women’s global title and this victory came against the background of having won only half of their previous 20 matches in this format ahead of the tournament.They had to dig deep after New Zealand kept them down to 106 for eight. It appeared a modest total, but those who follow women’s cricket closely will tell you that around 120 is the par score in this version of the game.The vast majority of those who watched the men’s final remained on for the women’s event and would have been impressed with the manner in which Australia defended their total.New Zealand, dubbed in women’s cricket circles as the White Ferns, are known for their aggressive hitting but Australia hardly allowed it.New Zealand paid the price for the enterprising intentions in the early stages and Australia also sustained the pressure with the key wicket of semi-final hero Sara McGlashan who was run out by a direct throw in the fifth over.Devine, who batted at No. 4 and finished unbeaten on 38 off 35 balls, had to consolidate for most of the innings after New Zealand were reduced to 36 for five.Devine and Nicola Browne, who made 20, added 41 for the sixth wicket but there was a feeling that the big hitting was left for too late.Most of their problems were caused by 19-year-old medium-pacer Ellyse Perry who took three for 18 and won the Player Of the Match award.

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