By Justin Goulding
Australia women succeeded where their male counterparts failed by lifting the ICC World Twenty20 in Barbados.
Having seen the men’s side slip to a seven-wicket defeat against England immediately prior to their contest, Australia beat New Zealand by three runs in a thrilling climax to the women’s competition.
Australia produced a wonderful display with the ball and in the field to successfully defend a seemingly inadequate 106 for eight on a slow surface at the Kensington Oval.
Their total was built around useful rather than sizeable contributions from several players, with Leah Poulton’s 20 the best of them.
Nicola Browne, who was later named player of the tournament, did most to undermine them by claiming 2-11 off four overs, while Sophie Devine returned figures of 2-21.
New Zealand’s reply was even more fractured, though, as last year’s runners-up in this competition slipped to 36 for five after 11 overs.
At that stage Australia looked set for a comfortable triumph, even more so when New Zealand needed 24 to win off the last eight balls.
However, they had not reckoned on Devine, who took 10 off the last two balls of the penultimate over, bowled by Rene Farrell, before launching into Ellyse Perry.
Exceptional Australian fielding limited her to four twos, and Perry stuck out a boot to deny Devine a straight-driven four off the final ball, which would have taken the game into a super over. Devine finished unbeaten on 38.
Australia’s players and support staff swarmed the pitch at the close, while the men, who stayed around to show their support, joined in the celebrations from the stands.
Australia captain Alex Blackwell said: “We always believed that total was going to be enough.
“Our bowling attack has a level-headedness and can get through those challenges in front of them. They did that today.”
– but the sailors praise the new boats