Three cheers for Southern Stars
Australia romped to their third consecutive Women's World Twenty20 title, beating arch-rivals England by six wickets in a lopsided final at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
Australia, the pre-eminent powerhouse of women's cricket, turned the run-chase into a cakewalk after restricting the opposition to a below-par score of 105.
Skipper Meg Lanning -- the best batswoman in this format and also the highest scorer of the tournament, led the run chase with a 30-ball 44, with four boundaries and two sixes. Lanning holed out to mid-off off the bowling of Natalie Sciver in the 15th over. But by then Australia only needed two runs for victory. Even when another wicket fell in the same over, there wasn't any panic in the Australian dressing room.
Ellyse Perry, who finished unbeaten on 31, pulled the first ball of the next over from Danielle Hazell for a single and Australia were home.
Anya Shrubsole of England could only manage a single wicket to take her tally to highest 13 wickets in the tournament.
The fielder at deep mid-wicket, instead of saving the boundary, kicked the ball in frustration, as the Australian girls ran into the field to celebrate. That sort of summed up the mood of the two camps and the nature of the final.
Australia had it all under control chasing, owed a lot to their disciplined bowling performance, after they had asked the opposition to bat.
Medium pacer Sarah Coyte was the wrecker-in-chief, striking crucial blows early in the innings.
There were no demons on the pitch, but Coyte and to some extent Ellyse Perry, stuck to the basics, bowled straight, and had the England batters in trouble who tried many injudicious shots.
The Powerplay overs gave away only 24 runs, but more importantly accounted for the wicket of Charlotte Edwards (13). Coyte had her caught at mid-on, and since then Australia were on the ascendancy.
Heather Knight tried to up the ante with a few boundaries in the next three overs, taking the score past 50, but when the other opener, Sarah Taylor was trapped in front while trying to attempt a reverse sweep on a straight delivery from Coyte, England were already looking down the barrel.
Ellyse Perry struck in the next over, getting Lydia Greenway caught behind while Knight's aggression was cut short soon when Perry grasped her at mid-wicket in the 13th over.
England's middle-order, which had hardly been tested in this tournament thanks to the services of the top four, was put to real test and they budged.
The best they did was to steal singles, with some occasional boundaries to take the score to 105 for eight. But on a placid wicket, and with the batting prowess that Australia possessed, it was always going to be too little to defend.