West Indies Women produced an impressive display today at the Wankhede Stadium to beat New Zealand by six runs and reach a first ever ICC World Twenty20 final. They will face Australia on Sunday.
Britney Cooper dazzled with 61 from 48 balls – including five fours and two sixes – as West Indies took 143 runs off a New Zealand attack that had impressed through an unbeaten run in the group stage.
Legspinner Leigh Kasperek – leading wicket-taker for the tournament – was wicketless, conceding 30 from her three overs, although Sophie Devine took 4 for 22 to join her at the top of the table with nine wickets.
It was part of a handy all-round display from Devine, who struck 22 from 14 balls with the bat, but the White Ferns lost key wickets at key times – Windies’ captain Stafanie Taylor taking 3 for 26.
New Zealand won the toss and chose to bowl first, but got off to a sloppy start with Lea Tahuhu going for 21 from her opening two overs. Slow-left-armer Morna Nielsen fared better, taking 1-14 from her four, including the first wicket of Hayley Matthews, out lbw for 16.
It brought Cooper to the crease, and she put on 60 for the second wicket with skipper Taylor, until Devine picked up her first wicket – Taylor slogging straight to midwicket.
Devine added the key wickets of big-hitting Deandra Dottin (20 off 17 balls) and Copper in the 18th over, soon after Cooper had launched Kasperek for back-to-back sixes.
It slowed the West Indies’ scoring, but their total of 143 for 6 looked to be a good one when Shamilia Connell bowled Rachel Priest in the third over with the score on 11.
Devine came in and cracked four boundaries inside her first six balls to get New Zealand’s innings going, before being run out brilliantly by a direct hit from Dottin in the seventh over.
It was one of two wickets in five balls which derailed New Zealand, with captain Suzie Bates dismissed by offspinner Afy Fletcher, caught at cover off a leading edge.
Sara McGlashan (38 off 30) and Amy Satterthwaite (24 off 29) rebuilt, putting on 59 for the fourth wicket, to take the White Ferns to within 37 of their target with four overs remaining.
But another double strike in the 17th all but ended the contest, Taylor removing both caught at cover in two balls, to find herself on a hat-trick.
Three more wickets fell in the final three overs as New Zealand desperately searched for runs, the White Ferns ultimately falling short on 137 for 8.
Taylor said afterwards her team’s remarkable run in the tournament, irrespective of the final result on Sunday, could help change things for the better back home.
“Women’s cricket is not as popular (in West Indies) as maybe say in Australia. Australia have that foundation which we are still trying to build in the West Indies,” Taylor said.
“We hope that after being in the final and hopefully winning it, would change everything back home. People would know more about females playing the game, which we do want, more girls coming out to play the game. We hope that we (bring) that change.”
Taylor explained that her team’s strategy was to focus on their strengths rather than that of their opponents.
“We had a look at the footage to see how they were bowling. There was no time to play their game actually, it was time to play our best game. And I think the way we played them, it was fantastic. We knew that we had to put up a big total to push New Zealand back and 143 was pretty decent,” Taylor said.
Just like her New Zealand counterpart Suzie Bates, Taylor also admitted that Dottin’s accurate throw to catch in-form Sophie Devine short of her crease turned the game on its head.
“Anytime Dottin gets a run out, it is something spectacular. She is so vibrant in the field and whenever she gets a run out, it brings the whole flame back. And I think that is where it changed and brought us back in the game really,” Taylor said.