Melbourne: Defending champion Australia claimed its fifth Women’s Twenty20 Cricket World Cup title after thrashing India by 85 runs in Sunday’s final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The International Cricket Council had been hoping to set a world record for the biggest attendance at a women’s sporting event, on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The crowd figure of 86,174 fell short of the 90,185 fans who attended the FIFA Women's World Cup final between the United States and China in Pasadena, California, in 1999.
But the fans still managed to help create a national record on a historic occasion in Melbourne as women’s cricket took another leap forward, thanks mainly to the breathtaking batting of Alyssa Healy. The opener belted 75 off 39 balls including a record half-century off just 30 deliveries.
The fans rejoiced as Healy struck seven fours and five sixes, following a pre-game show headed by global superstar Katy Perry.
Perry performed on a purple stage, backed by 14 dancing cricket bats and hundreds of schoolgirls holding “GRL PWR” signs. Perry captured the mood of the occasion, singing her hit “Roar”.
Healy and Beth Mooney (78 not out from 54 deliveries) shared an opening stand of 115 in Australia’s total of 184-4, a record for a women’s T20 final.
In reply, India suffered at the hands of Australia’s sharp fielding, losing four early wickets for 30 in a total of 99 in 19.1 overs.
Earlier, Healy had been dropped on nine at cover. Healy made India pay by setting a record for the fastest 50 in an ICC final.
Mooney and Healy posted their century partnership in the 11th over, as Healy clubbed three sixes off consecutive deliveries in a 23-run over from seamer Shikha Pandey.
Healy fell for 75 in the following over, after holing out to long-on from the bowling of spinner Radha Yadav.
The crowd included Healy’s husband, 2015 World Cup-winning pace bowler Mitchell Starc, who skipped the last match of Australia’s one-day series in South Africa so he could attend Sunday’s final.
Spinner Deepti Sharma removed Australia’s captain Meg Lanning (16) and Ash Gardner (2) in the 17th over. Rachael Haynes also departed cheaply in the 19th over, in leg-spinner Poonam Yadav’s only success of the innings (1-30).
Mooney remained unbeaten to guide Australia to 184-4. Mooney was also dropped before she reached double figures, offering a return catch to Rajeshwari Gayakwad on eight.
In contrast, Australia took its early chances, as 16-year-old Shafali Verma fell to a sharp chance by wicket-keeper Healy in the opening over.
Jemima Rodrigues (0) and Smriti Mandhana (11) also departed cheaply, and Taniya Bhatia retired hurt on two with concussion after a blow to the neck following an attempted sweep.
Spinner Jess Jonassen made a huge breakthrough to claim her second wicket as India’s skipper Harmanpreet Kaur was caught at deep square-leg for seven at 30-4.
Jonassen’s acrobatic catch to dismiss Veda Krishnamurthy (19) left India in tatters at 58-5.
Seamer Megan Schutt and spinner Jess Jonassen claimed 4-18 and 3-20, respectively, for the triumphant Australia side, which lost its opening game of the tournament to India and then only won its semi-final against South Africa by five runs in a rain-interrupted clash.
“It feels absolutely incredible,” Jonassen said.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Recently, the ICC had announced that the Champions Trophy, which hasn't been held after 2017 in England, will be revived during the next FTP cycle and accordingly India has decided to bid for it.
India women's team and the gripping Test match England showed the value they can bring to the cricketing world. If BCCI and other boards have got the message, we would soon see more Test matches for India and other international women's teams.
India and England will play a one-off Test in Bristol from Wednesday, which will start the visitors' full-fledged tour of the UK, where they will also feature in ODI and T20 series.