By Shashank Kishore in Sylhet
Dottin’s dismissal ended West Indies Women's hopes of reaching target of 141, in a semi-final full of twists
Over the course of the semifinal at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur on Thursday (April 3), West Indies landed the early punch; Australia recovered, but just when Deandra Dottin, the West Indies all-rounder, appeared to have landed the knockout punch, came another twist. A full toss that ought to have been hit out of the park found the long-on fielder, with West Indies still needing 20 off 11 balls. That proved to be the turning point as Australia scraped home by eight runs.
Sarah Coyte, who conceded 21 in three wicketless overs, bowled one into Dottin's striking zone. The full toss found the sweet spot, but didn’t get the required elevation as Erion Osborne held her nerve to hold on to the catch with the ropes lurking in the corner of her eye. Despite her dismissal, there was still a glimmer of hope with Stacy-Ann King unbeaten on 31. But Australia, who has been in these situations far too many times, held its own under pressure to give itself a chance of completing a hat trick of World T20 titles come Sunday.
All the talk of a sluggish pitch, slow turn and uneven bounce was something both teams didn't pay heed to. Australia, who opted to bat, posted a more than competitive 140 for 5 courtesy Alyssa Healy's unbeaten 21-ball 30 that provided the power boost towards the end.
West Indies started well but Stafanie Taylor's run-out on 24 set the cat among the pigeons. Three quiet overs later, Dottin cut loose. Her intimidating presence brought a sense of calm to the West Indies dug out. Her 35-ball 40 – a fine cocktail of timing and fierce ball-striking – threatened to reduce the match to a canter. The short balls were muscled over deep mid-wicket and the full ones were paddled round the corner. It came as a big blow when she fell in the manner she did, her dismissal allowing Australia to tighten the noose.
Aguilleira, who followed, couldn’t quite strike the ball cleanly as Rene Farrell, the medium pacer, conceded just five runs, with West Indies needing 14; West Indies finished at 132 for 4.
Most T20 Internationals have that one big innings or a match-winning spell. Australia had none, yet its batting depth eventually made the difference. Three cameos – Elyse Villani at the top, Meg Lanning, the captain, in the middle, and Healy at the depth – injected momentum to the innings at various stages.
Villani, fresh off a match-winning 90 in her previous game against Pakistan, rolled out the carpet for the run-fest by smashing two boundaries of Tremayne Smartt, the medium pacer, in the first over. In an attempt to tie the batters down, Aguilleira brought on her spinners, but there was no stopping Villani.
The openers put on 32 before Jess Jonassen, promoted to open, was run out for 5. West Indies’ relief quickly turned to despair as Lanning, who came in next, sent the bowlers scurrying for cover. A powerhouse of talent for someone who is small built, Lanning danced down and lofted cleanly over mid-off to set the tempo. Villani's burst ended as she looked to step things up and holed out to long-off where Kycia held on to a comfortable catch.
Lanning kept the momentum going by taking Shaquana Quintyne, the legspinner, for three boundaries in the 10th over. Off the next, she hammered Selman for two boundaries – first bisecting deep midwicket and long-on and then cracking one wide of point. Lanning, who blasted her way effortlessly to 29, was done in by the slowness of the pitch when she got a thick inside edge onto the pad as the ball then rolled onto the stumps.
Three overs later, Anisa Mohammed dismissed Jess Cameron. But every time Australia found itself taking two steps back, it looked to take a giant one forward. Right on time, in came Healy at No. 7. As if to prove a point against her demotion, she came out and single-handedly provided the final lift.
Australia smashed 48 off the final five overs to finish with a flourish that helped it prevail.