The West Indies captain believed in her team's ability and kept things simple to qualify for the semi-finals
After a shock loss to Sri Lanka in a rain-affected match on Friday (September 28), West Indies resurrected its campaign with an impressive 10-wicket win over South Africa that booked a place in the semi-finals of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2012.
The ease with which it achieved the target, chasing 71 in just 9.4 overs, was in sharp contrast to its game against Sri Lanka, where it failed to score 48 off eight overs. Merissa Aguilleira, the captain, said it was a question of keeping things simple and playing with an uncluttered mind. "We knew we had quality and ability," she said at the post-match press conference. "The match against Sri Lanka wasn't up to our standards, so we just spoke about improving and playing without any worry, because qualification to the semi-finals was well within our reach."
West Indies opted to bowl, and its strategy of stifling South Africa with spin proved to be the right one on the day. "Last night, we analysed each of their players,” said Aguilleira. “We had specific plans in place. We played a couple of warm-ups, so we had an idea of what to expect against them."
West Indies was clearly the better side in both its wins against New Zealand and South Africa. The batting unit led by Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin looks much more confident and formidable. Aguilleira heaped praise on Sherwin Campbell, the coach, for the turnaround. "Sherwin is a very good coach,” she said. “He is someone who has had vast experience of playing and coaching. He is extremely persistent, but it is upto us at the end of the day to implement the plans. He has been really good for us.”
Taylor, who was named Player of the match, also reached the landmark of 1000 runs in Women's Twenty20 internationals during her knock. She was at ease in the role expected of her. "I've always put the team's interest ahead of mine," she said. "I enjoy my role as an all-rounder, so it is quite easy for me to divide my time between bat and ball at the nets.
"The pitch was really good, but I think the defensive mindset of the South African batters played into my hands."
Mignon du Preez, the South African captain, accepted that it was the abject batting performance that saw it exit the competition in the first round. "Quite obviously, our batting let us down at crucial junctures," she said. "We've lost wickets in clusters right through the tournament, and once that happens it is very difficult to make a comeback."
On the field, South Africa looked intimidated by its opponent, though it was on the threshold of a semi-final spot at the ICC Women's World Twenty20 for the first time." Yes, I would be lying if I say we weren't nervous,” said du Preez. “A place in the semi-finals was at stake, we were all looking forward to it. We had a good enough side, but we panicked when we lost three early wickets and there was no way out.”
Despite the loss, Du Preez felt this experience would only benefit the side in the years ahead. "Definitely this experience will stand us in good stead ahead of the Women's World Cup next year,” she said. "We also have the experience of playing on slow and low wickets in Bangladesh, so hopefully we will come back better prepared, and as a better side for the 50-over World Cup in India."