West Indies and Australia provided the perfect example of how exciting women's cricket can be as the former staged a stunning fightback to beat the favourites by eight runs and reach their first World Cup final. It was also the first time West Indies beat Australia in an ODI match.
The final will again be between West Indies and Australia and will be played at the Brabourne Stadium on 17 Ferbruary.
Having scored just 164 runs after winning the toss and electing to bat, WI allowed Australia to reach 89 for the loss of just four wickets with 24 overs still to go. But a collapse in the latter half meant Australia folded for 156-runs.
The Aussies were in a comfort zone, easing towards their target. But after a couple of run-outs and an inspired spell from Tremayne Smartt, the Windies suddenly found themselves on top.
Australia were reeling at 131-7 with just nine overs to spare and the match could have gone either way. Despite being assured of a place in the final, the Kangaroos were in no mood to relinquish their unbeaten run.
Erin Osbourne and Renee Chappell started taking desperate singles and twos, risking run-outs on almost every occasion. But when Stephanie Taylor dismissed Chappell leg-before the wicket to get the crucial 8th wicket it gave West Indies the chance they needed.
Osbourne, who had a brilliant time with the ball (2/16 in nine overs) hammered Shaquana Quintyne for a couple of fours in the 47th over to take the match right down to the wire. But Megan Schutt's attempt at a quick run resulted in yet another run-out to leave the WI just a wicket away from victory.
Osbourne was the last wicket to fall, caught behind by skipper Merissa Aguilleira to trigger a rapturous celebration from the Windies players.
Earlier it seemed that the Aussies would dent Windies' hopes of making the final by measure of points. They would still have a chance, but it would depend on the net run-rate determined after the England vs New Zealand match at the Brabourne stadium.
Australia shook off a rusty start after star batter Meg Lanning was dismissed for a duck in just the second over, leaving them at 1/1 after 1.5 overs. But Rachel Haynes and Jess Cameron settled down the nerves with a 31-run partnership.
Though the Windies managed to take a few wickets, they were not coming at regular intervals and Australia showed no signs of panic in the middle order. Haynes (21) and Cameron (39) were also dismissed but Alex Blackwell (45) and skipper Jodie Fields (18) were looking solid before the collapse began.
The West Indies would themselves have folded for much less than 164 runs had it not been for some brilliant batting from Dottin. The 21-year-old came in when her team was reeling at 59-5 after 18.3 overs and kept the scoreboard ticking despite wickets falling at the other end.
Her innings was well paced, starting with a flurry of boundaries before she settled for more intelligent shots all over the pitch. She loves to score her boundaries, but Dottin was sharp between the wickets too, forcing her partners to take some quick runs and retain strike whenever possible.
When she heaved a six over the on-side off Renee Chappell, it seemed West Indies would score more than 200-runs — especially with the power-play in order.
Dottin, however, got a little too excited and completely missed an attempt to clear the mid-wicket boundary, instead seeing her middle stump being knocked back. When she was finally bowled by Erin Osbourne on 60 (66 balls, 10x4, 1x6), WI were 135-8. Dottin and Shaquana Quintyne had forged a 43-run 8th wicket partnership.
As usual, the Australian pacers did the early damage — with Holly Ferling (3/27) and Megan Schutt (3/50) removing a very competent West Indies top order. But skipper Aguilleira could have stuck around with Dottin — rather than choosing to recklessly give away her wicket after a mistimed slog-sweep.
The majority of the wickets may have been taken by the pacers, but West Indies must remain equally wary of the spinners. Osbourne took 2/16 in her nine overs and Lisa Sthalekar gave away just 24 runs in 10 overs, taking Aguilleira's wicket in the process.
Jodie Fields' strategy of introducing her spinners at just the right time seems to be working along with her attacking field and despite this loss, it's hard to not bestow the tag of favourites to the Kangaroos.
First Published On : Feb 13, 2013 16:21 IST