Two-time defending champions Australia eked their way into the third straight final of the Women's World Twenty20 when they tamed a fearless West Indies side by eight runs in the first semifinal at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
The Southern Stars defended a par score of 140, thanks to some accurate death bowling and good work in the outfield. It was third time unlucky for the West Indians, who also got out from the same stage on the previous two occasions and lost the 50-overs World Cup final against the same opposition last year.
Defending 140 on a wicket which assisted batswomen more than the bowlers, Australia gave themselves a chance when they got talismanic West Indian Stefanie Taylor run out on the first ball of the eight over. Taylor had moved to 23 off 24 when she tried to steal a second run on a mis-field from Sarah Coyte. But as she dived to get back in the popping crease, her bat was not in touch with the ground and wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy took the bails off on a flat throw from Sarah. The next two overs yielded just three runs, and the other opener, Kycia Knight, after scoring 21, succumbed under the pressure and was cleaned up by the off-spinner Erin Osborne.
Deandra Dottin and Stacy-Ann King calmed the nerves with a few lusty blows and they needed 21 runs from the last two overs, with eight wickets in hand. But match changed complexion after the third delivery of the nineteenth over when Dottin, having made 40 off 35 balls, holed out to Coyte's full toss at deep midwicket boundary. Osborne, who had helped keep the scoring rate in check with a mean spell off 1 for 18, kept her calm and grasped it. That was the longest boundary and a yard or two over and it would have gone for six. But Osborne made sure she held on to the most crucial catch of the match. There on, it was Australia turning the screws on a shell-shocked West Indies. King was stranded unbeaten on 36 at one end, but Australia had done enough to take the match.
Earlier, the world champions had scored 140 for five -- after deciding to bat, thanks to a crucial 30 unbeaten off 21 from Healy. Healy came in to bat when Australia were in a spot of bother. They were five down for 92 and their best batter Meg Lanning was back in the pavilion for 29. Healy sent the first ball she faced from spinner Anisa Mohammed to the third-man boundary, and then cleared the fence three more times in the next three overs, to take Australia to a fighting total, which they defended manfully.