Australia crush England to claim hat-trick
Two sides that had played each other several times over the last six months contested what promised to be a thrilling finale. However, the Australia Women who turned up on a muggy afternoon was clinical and ruthless in its six-wicket demolition of the England Women at the Women's World Twenty20 final at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium.
Australia captain Meg Lanning placed faith in her plethora of medium pacers despite being given the shivers by West Indies in the semifinal, but reaped the rewards when it mattered most as Australia completed a hat-trick of World T20 titles to go along with the World Cup win last year. It meant England suffered the disappointment of its second successive loss at the World T20 final.
On a balmy Colombo evening in October 2012, it were pipped by just four runs. But in Dhaka, the defeat would have been a bitter pill to swallow as Australia hardly broke sweat in its march to the title. The result was shaped by Sarah Coyte, Ellyse Perry and Rene Farrell with the ball before the runs were knocked off without any fuss.
Put in to bat, England huffed and puffed its way to 105 for 8, at least 20 short of what it would have liked on a good batting surface. Between them, Australia's medium pacers had figures of 7 for 56 in 12 overs. Coyte struck once in each of her first three overs to eventually finish with 3 for 16 off her four overs, while Perry and Farrell, sharp and deadly accurate, took two wickets apiece.
Most teams would agree the pressure of chasing in a final is a different matter altogether, but Australia brushed aside that notion with a power-packed approach. The quick-fire start at the top by Jess Jonassen set the tempo for Lanning and Perry to do a bulk of the damage in Australia's tally of 109 for 4 with 29 balls to spare.
Jonassen hit Danielle Hazelle, the off-spinner, for a six and two crunching strokes through the off-side in the second over. But the blitz didn't last long a she clubbed a full delivery on 15 to Amy Jones at mid-on to give Anya Shrubsole an opening.
England's muted celebration was an indication of its tight situation. The mood was pensive, the shoulders were drooping and not even the rampaging Shrubsole, the tournament's highest wicket-taker, had answers to Lanning's fury.
The Australia captain first hit Shrubsole through the line over mid-off for six and then hammered a boundary between midwicket and mid-on off the next ball. With the confidence shaken, there was no way out for England as Australia had blasted 37 off five overs. While Elyse Villani chipped a catch to mid-on, Lanning simply continued to boss her way to the top of the run-charts in typically aggressive fashion. She hit four fours and two sixes in her 44.
But an attempt to hit the winning runs in a boundary resulted in a simple catch to mid-off. As if to just delay victory, Natalie Sciver dismissed Alex Blackwell, the vice-captain, for a duck. The honours of hitting the winning runs finally went to Perry, who finished 34 not out as Australia cantered home.
Earlier in the evening, there was something compelling about watching three medium pacers feel at home on the Sher-e-Bangla track where the spinners were expected to do all the talking. Both Charlotte Edwards, the England captain, and Sarah Taylor played more cross-batted slogs in the first five overs than they did in the tournament so far. Boundaries were few and far between to begin with and the frustration of being tied down got to Edwards in the sixth over.
An attempt to clear the infield resulted in Edwards's wicket on 13 as she hit Coyte to Jess Cameron who took a tumbling catch at mid-on. With just 24 runs in the Power Play overs, it was a slow start, but not an alarming one for England yet. Heather Knight, who aggregated 72 runs in five innings in the tournament coming into the game, broke the shackles by hitting two boundaries off Erin Osborne, the off-spinner, in the 8th over.
But England's attempt to up the tempo received another blow when Taylor was lbw for 18 in an attempt to play a reverse paddle off Coyte. Four balls later, Lydia Greenway's attempted run down to third man resulted in a faint edge through to Alyssa Healy, the wicket-keeper, as England slipped to 59 for 3 in the 12th over.
From there on, the choke was well and truly on. Runs were hard to come by, resulting in the batters attempting a release shot. Knight, who looked in sparkling touch, was perhaps consumed by the pressure to break free as an attempted release shot off Osborne on 29 resulted in a straightforward catch to Perry at deep mid-wicket.
England never really had the control of the game following the dismissal of Taylor after a second-wicket stand of 32. From 51 for 1 in nine overs, the innings quickly decelerated courtesy Coyte's wicket-to-wicket bowling. Overs from nine to 14 dealt the biggest blow to England, which lost three wickets in the space of 20 runs. From there on, it was simply one-way traffic as the finale meandered towards an anti-climatic end.