That winning moment for the West Indies women (Image screenshot)

Australia's women's cricket team battled valiantly before narrowly losing to the West Indies in the women’s T20 World Cup cricket final in India. Lachlan Barker reports.

THE WOMEN'S FINAL of cricket's twenty over version of the World Cup was held on the weekend between Australia's Southern Stars and a West Indies team led by the formidably explosive bat Stafanie Taylor.

However, before I get to the result, I would just like to prepare the ground with a story from my home town, Bathurst in NSW, during my youth.

There were two boys’ private schools in my town, St Stanislaus, known colloquially as Stannies, and Scots, where my brother endured servitude.

The sporting rivalries between these two schools was intense and never more so than during the rugby and cricket fixtures.

At one point, the school system of which these two schools were a part held some sort of sports tournament and various schools from all over the state competed.

Scots won the tournament, with Stannies breathing down their neck in second place.

However, for some reason, the local newspaper, the Western Advocate – or Aggravate as it was popularly known – ran this headline:

‘Stannies come second in tournament’.

Which made my brother opine that whoever wrote that headline was a Stannies old boy.

So, hopefully, I have now provided you with a wry smile and so I can write this: ‘Southern Stars come second in T20 World Cup’.

Yes, the tournament was deservedly won by the West Indies, with masterful performances all along the way.

The final itself was a good match, notwithstanding the fact that Australia lost, with the final outcome being decided in the 20th over, which showed the tightness of the contest.

Australia batted first and got away to a good start, with openers Alyssa Healy and Elyse Villani off to a solid and quick-scoring start.

Villani posted a strike rate of 140 before going in the twelfth over for 52, her score including nine boundaries.

She was supported by captain Meg Lanning, also with 52, but from 49 deliveries, including eight boundaries. The other major contribution came from Ellyse Perry, who rattled up 28.

This took Australia’s innings through to the close at 148.

Then it was the West Indies turn and, sadly, for Australia the Windies began to lay the platform for victory from the off.

Openers Hayley Matthews and captain Stafanie Taylor took off on a slow burn but then built to a formidable position.

Matthews slammed 66 from 45 deliveries for a strike rate of 146 including six boundaries and three sixes. She departed in the 16th over and Taylor, who up to this point had been content to play the support role, then began to accelerate her scoring. Taylor eventually notched 59 from 57 including six fours.

However, despite this brilliant opening partnership, the West Indies were still behind on the run rate.

At the end of the 17th over the West Indies were behind on the count needing 20 runs off the last three overs, slightly greater than a run a ball.

Which when it goes down to the wire does put the batting side under pressure.

So I dared let a tiny flicker of hope burn inside me as I counted down the overs, then the individual deliveries.

But it was not to be. Deandra Dottin, who came to the wicket at the fall of the Matthews’s wicket, finally extinguished all hope for Australia.

Dottin hit two fours from the first two balls of the eighteenth over and radically altered the run rate required back in the West Indies favour.

Then, despite Taylor’s wicket in the second last over, the West Indies were able to count it down to victory, with three balls to spare.

Hayley Matthews was player of the match.

In retrospect, it was always going to be tough for the Southern Stars as the West Indies are clearly a formidable outfit.

In the last column I – as usual – got my sports predictions way wrong.

Following the defeat of the Stars by New Zealand in their group match, I opined that the Kiwis were the team to beat in this tournament. Well, the West Indies took me at my word and beat the very powerful Kiwi team in the semi-final, so they – by my logic and, as events did indeed show – were clearly the team to beat.

However, to use the oft-repeated quote from that most annoying of commentators, Bill Lawry: "cricket was the winner".

Or, more precisely, women’s cricket was the winner.

The women’s matches received good support from the cricket mad Indian locals and, with the top nations powerful and well performed, and with less fancied nations performing well on the world stage, it became a great advertisement for the women’s game.

The two minnows here, by the way, were Ireland in Australia’s group and Bangladesh in Group B.

Neither of these teams won a match, but neither was disgraced either and all experience in a tournament like this brings them one match closer to their first victory.

As for the Australian men, they departed the tournament during the group phase following defeat by India.

Australia notched a solid 160 with 43 from Aaron Finch and 26 from Usman Khawaja; however they were then put to the sword by India’s Virat Kohli.

Kohli played a real purists’ innings that did cricket fogeys like myself (some) good to see. He scored 82 from 51 balls with nine boundaries and two sixes.

However, near half of his runs came along the ground into gaps in the field, the way it is usually done on the test cricket arena. This showed that you can be a success in 20-over cricket without having to hit the ball repeatedly into the twelfth row of the grandstand.

For the record, the West Indies notched a double by winning the men’s event as well.

They beat England in the final by four wickets on the back of an 85 from Marlon Samuels. With the ball, the West Indies were best served by Dwayne Bravo and Carlos Brathwaite, with three wickets each, while Samuel Badree and Andre Russell put a lot of pressure on the England batting by bowling with economy rates of four and five respectively.

So there you have it for the period, a great tournament all round with biggest well dones to both of the West Indies teams.

That’s it for cricket for the summer; we now look forward to biff and oof of the footy season – women’s and men’s – around the country.

Lachlan Barker blogs at cyclonecharlie88.blogspot.com.au. You can follow him on Twitter at @cyclonecharlie8.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

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