Merissa Aguilleira, the West Indies captain, rated the 82-run third-wicket stand between Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin as one of the best the team has produced
West Indies dominated from start to finish in its opening game of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 against New Zealand in Galle on Wednesday (26 September). It wasn't completely blemish-free, but for a majority of the 40 overs, it was very clear that West Indies was the better side.
Merissa Aguilleira, the captain, was relieved that the conditions were more batting-friendly, unlike in England, where they lost a recent Twenty20 International series 4-1. "These were excellent conditions to play in,” she said. “The odd ball was stopping, but by and large, it was a good pitch. We had a specific gameplan and I'm glad it worked."
West Indies, chasing 118, was in early trouble at 5 for two. However, Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin put on a matchwinning 82-run stand for the third wicket off just 55 balls to change the complexion of the game. "I think it was one of the best partnerships we've produced,” said Aguilleira. “It is for a reason that Staf (Taylor) is ranked No.1 in the world, and Deandra Dottin proved she isn't too far behind."
Dottin, whose swashbuckling fifth Twenty20 fifty helped West Indies stay ahead of the chase, felt that not altering her game too much was the secret to success. "I just went out and played my natural game,” she said. “The plan was to punish the bad balls.”
Watching her bat, it wouldn't have needed an expert to tell you that even the good balls kept finding the boundary. "Once the first few deliveries hit the middle of the bat, I got the confidence to play my shots," said Dottin.
West Indies takes on Sri Lanka and South Africa in its remaining matches. While this win has given it a much-needed lift, Aguilleira believed that, just as in the men's competition, there was no clear favourite in the women's arena.
"I think it is an open tournament," she said. “Underestimating any team will only prove to be a mistake. If we show the same application and energy, we've a good chance of progressing till the end."
At the other end of the spectrum, Suzie Bates, the New Zealand captain, was understandably disappointed. "We were at least 20 runs short," she said. "The plan was to get to at least 140, especially after the start we got, but even then there is no excuse for not being able to defend 118. I thought I got out at the wrong time after doing all the hard work." Bates was run out, after she had made 32 off 34 balls.
New Zealand, runner up in both 2009 and 2010, will need to improve, and Bates believed that there was still time to get things back on track. "It's not the ideal start for sure, but one loss doesn't mean it is the end of the world,” she said. “We have to back our abilities. It is back to the drawing board, and I'm sure we'll bounce back."
The match saw some fine individual performances from Dottin and Taylor and an outstanding fielding effort from West Indies. New Zealand too, had its chances, and Bates felt it was great advertisement for the women's game.
"I think it was a fantastic game," she said. "Deandra and Stafanie showed their class and quality. It was a well-contested game, the kind of contest that is well worthy of being classified as a World Cup fixture."