Saturday, March 2, 2024

WI Women into maiden World T20 final


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MUMBAI – All along, batsmen have had to find innovative ways to keep the runs ticking. Scoops, paddles, dabs and strike rotation have been the key largely due to surfaces on offer.

The first sign of a true surface and the belligerence of the batsmen came to the fore at the Wankhede Stadium in a high-scoring clash that West Indies Women won by six runs – their first semi-final victory – to set up a final date with Australia Women in Kolkata on Sunday. Like the men, New Zealand Women bowed out of the tournament after going through the group stages unscathed.

West Indies, all swagger and substance, challenged the might of New Zealand’s spin trio of Morna Nielsen, Leigh Kasperek and Erin Bermingham to post an imposing 143 for 6. Sara McGlashan and Amy Satterthwaite then overcame slices of luck – they could have been run-out on a number of occasions during the course of their fourth-wicket stand of 59, but their dismissal in the space of four deliveries thwarted New Zealand’s designs. They eventually finished on 137 for 8 as West Indies broke their semi-final voodoo after three failed attempts.

Britney Cooper was the principal destroyer for West Indies as she made a belligerent 48-ball 61. However, it was far from a one-woman show as Stafanie Taylor, the captain, and Deandra Dottin played their part in injecting momentum at various stages of the innings to somewhat cover up for the lack of big hits towards the end. While they managed just one four and two sixes in the last five overs, they still managed to eke out 43 valuable runs.

New Zealand, who had stamped their authority over the rest of the field in the group stages, needed their accomplished top order to produce the best batting display of the tournament. Although Rachel Priest fell early, Sophie Devine came out all guns blazing, hitting four boundaries off her first six deliveries to bring the chase back on track. But some lackadaisical running coupled with Dottin’s rocket throw from point found her inches short of the crease. When Bates was pouched off a leading edge at mid-off four balls later, New Zealand slipped to 49 for 3 to throw the chase off track again.

McGlashan then took the onus on her to keep the scoreboard ticking along, as she combined with Satterthwaite to eat into the target. Without taking any risks, the pair comfortably managed to churn an average of seven runs every over, even as they were helped by a West Indies unit that seemed to have switched off briefly. By bringing down the equation to 56 off the last six, the game was delicately poised. But by picking 13 off the following over, there seemed to be another twist that threw open possibilities of a last-over thriller. But Taylor’s double-strike in the 17th over to dismiss Sattherthwaite and McGlashan, both to Shemaine Campbelle at sweeper cover, subsided New Zealand’s challenge.

Mathews provided the early spark as the game started off as an intriguing battle between New Zealand’s spinners and West Indies’ big-hitting batsmen. Nielsen, the left-arm spinner, gave Bates an early breakthrough by trapping Matthews plumb in front in the third over, but West Indies showed their depth when it mattered most.

At the other end, the ball was pinging the middle of Taylor’s bat as she started her scoring with a back-foot punch for four, and followed that with a cut shot. Cooper, who came in at No. 3 in what was a surprise move, then unsettled Leigh Kasperek, the tournament’s highest wicket-taker, with two boundaries in her first over by stepping out and clearing the infield.

New Zealand looked dangerous whenever their spinners had proved tough to negotiate. But on Thursday, when there wasn’t much turn or slowness off the surface, most of them, barring Nielsen, looked largely ineffective. Taylor’s mistimed slog against the run of play came as a breather for New Zealand, but Dottin marked her arrival with a whip over square leg for four to seamlessly switch momentum. Cooper’s dismissal in the 18th over could have cost West Indies 10 extra runs on another day, but Merissa Aguilleira’s cameo ensured West Indies kept going forward despite losing wickets.

After finishing off well with the bat, Dottin was summoned to bowl the final over in which she had to defend 19, and she did like she had against India to close out the game in style. (ESPNcricinfo)


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