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Taylor, Cooper drive WI Women to first final

New Zealand Women falls six runs short in second semifinal after Cooper’s 61 drives Caribbean side to 143 for 6

31 March 2016 18:13 By Dileep Premachandran, Mumbai

Britney Cooper’s stroke-filled 48-ball 61 and a superb all-round display from Stafanie Taylor provided West Indies Women with the inspiration for a six-run victory over New Zealand Women, as it reached the final of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 for the first time after three consecutive semifinal defeats. Having made 143 for 6 in the allotted overs at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday (March 31), West Indies kept its composure well enough to stymie New Zealand at every critical juncture. Taylor’s 3 for 26 proved crucial, especially after West Indies had handled Leigh Kasperek and Erin Bermingham, two of the competition’s standout spinners, with ease.

Shamilia Connell gave West Indies the perfect start with the ball, pegging back Rachel Priest’s off-stump in her second over. But both she and Deandra Dottin offered too much width, and Sophie Devine cashed in with carves and cuts either side of point. When Taylor then introduced the legspin of Hayley Matthews, Suzie Bates stroked one through cover.

With 42 coming from the Power Play, New Zealand was right on course, but one over from Afy Fletcher titled the balance. First, Devine, who made 22 from just 14 balls, was run out by Deandra Dottin’s direct hit from point. And when Bates then miscued one to mid-off, New Zealand had slipped to 49 for 3.

Sara McGlashan and Amy Satterthwaite rebuilt, scampering singles and the odd two, but the boundaries proved frustratingly elusive. They had 70 on the board at halfway, but only 18 came from the next four overs as Fletcher, Taylor and Dottin applied the tourniquet.

The big surge that they needed came when both women took fours from a Matthews over that went for 13. But with Shaquana Quintyne giving away just six from her first over, the onus was again on the batters to go big. Taylor brought herself back on, and needed just three balls to shut the game down. Satterthwaite picked out Shemaine Campbelle at deep midwicket with the second, and McGlashan’s attempt to clear cover found the same fielder running in to take an excellent catch.

Katie Perkins cut Quintyne to Dottin at point, presenting Kasperek with the opportunity to redeem her afternoon. But with Quintyne and Taylor giving nothing to hit, the pressure built up enough for Kasperek to charge the last ball of Taylor’s spell and be comfortably stumped.

New Zealand needed 19 off the last over, bowled by Dottin, and never looked like getting them, despite being gifted two wides and a four when Stacy-Ann King dropped Bermingham and fumbled the ball on the rope.

On being sent in to bat, West Indies had started brightly, working Morna Nielsen’s left-arm spin for singles and then targeting Leah Tahuhu, with Matthews playing a gorgeous cover drive and then edging one through the vacant slip. Nielsen, who bowled with impeccable control , trapped her in the next over though as Matthews played across the line and missed one pitched on leg and middle.

With Taylor driving and cutting Tahuhu for fours, the momentum didn’t slacken though. Cooper greeted Kasperek, the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, with two lofted drives over the covers, and 40 came from the Power Play even as Nielsen gave nothing away at one end, finishing her spell with 1 for 14.

Bermingham, who had been nearly as difficult to hit as Kasperek in earlier games, wasn’t allowed to settle, with Cooper skipping out and stroking a straight four. West Indies had 63 at the halfway stage, and when Bermingham beat Cooper in flight, the thick edge that went for four summed up New Zealand’s plight.

Devine provided respite, as Taylor’s unbalanced attempt to slog over midwicket only found Katie Perkins. She made 25 from 26 balls, and Dottin, who replaced her, got going with a flick for four in a Bates over that went for 12.

Dottin swept Satterthwaite for four, and then watched Cooper get to a 45-ball half-century with an on-side loft off Kasperek that Satterthwaite could only palm over the ropes. Cooper celebrated with an emphatic straight six that saw Kasperek taken out of the attack after three overs that cost 30.

It was Devine that prevented a run-glut at the end, knocking over Dottin’s leg stump as she missed a scoop and then having Cooper caught behind for 61. Stacy-Ann King then heaved one to long-on to give her a fourth wicket. On another day, it would have been a match-winning spell. But Cooper and Taylor made sure that it would be fourth time lucky for West Indies.

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