ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Australia dethroned the West Indies Women and booked a place in Saturday’s Women’s World Twenty20 final with a crushing 71-run victory in the first semi-final at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua tonight.
Stunned by the Caribbean side in the 2016 final in Kolkata, the three-time champions were at their most ruthless to the dismay of a massive home crowd as they reached 142 for five batting first on a turgid pitch and then routed the West Indies for just 71 off 17.3 overs.
Put in to bat on a pitch where the experienced three-time former champions found free-scoring difficult, the Aussies were indebted again to the prolific Alyssa Healy, the opening batter top-scoring with 46 to earn her fourth Player of the Match award in five games so far in this tournament.
“It was really tricky out there given the fluffiness of the pitch,” she said during her post-match assessment of the conditions. “I felt that once we got past 120 our bowlers would have had a good chance of defending that total.”
Healy had passed a late fitness test after sustaining a concussion in the field during their last group match against India in Guyana five days earlier.
Healy and captain Meg Lanning produced the best partnership of the innings, putting on 51 for the second wicket.
After Healy fell to leg-spinner Afy Fletcher and Lanning was bowled by all-rounder Deandra Dottin, Rachael Haynes struck a flurry of boundaries to reach an unbeaten 25 off 15 balls to give her side a fighting chance against the title-holders.
She was particularly harsh on Dottin, who despite claiming the important wicket of Lanning, conceded 23 runs off two overs at the end of the innings.
West Indian hopes of a strong reply evaporated in the early overs of their innings with openers Hayley Matthews and Dottin dismissed cheaply.
Matthews was run out by wicketkeeper Healy after wandering out of her crease, while champion seamer Ellyse Perry accounted for Dottin bowled on the back foot off an inside-edge. She added the scalp of Shemaine Campbelle to finish with the outstanding figures of two for two from two overs.
Perry, who now sits on 99 T20 wickets, was not required by Lanning to return to the attack as the rest of the West Indies batting folded meekly, only captain Stafanie Taylor (16) getting into double-figures as all the bowlers shared in the rout, with seamer Delissa Kimmince and spinner Ashleigh Gardner also taking two wickets each. It was the Windies Women’s only defeat of the competition and it could not have come at a more inopportune time.
Some fans determined West Indies might have made a tactical error and paid the price for misreading the surface and bowling first. But captain Taylor insisted afterwards she believed she made the right decision.
“We looked at the pitch and felt that bowling first was the better option.
“We let them get away in the last six overs but I believe that as batters we didn’t bat properly. Everyone is different. We came into this game with a lot of confidence, it’s just one of those days,” she said.
Taylor added: “I want to thank all of the fans, the crowd was fantastic coming out and supporting us. We are sorry we couldn’t get across the line.”
Lanning said afterwards her ladies were thoroughly prepared for the Windies challenge.
“We were so ready for tonight’s game, it’s a very happy group but we know it’s one more game to go.
“Conditions were tough, we knew we were around par and we knew if we got a couple of early wickets we could get the job done. Rachael Haynes did really well to get us to 140,” she said.
In the end, some of the West Indies team cried openly at the missed opportunity.