Kolkata: Stafanie Taylor doesn’t have the luxury of watching power-hitting from the dugout like Darren Sammy, but that’s because she holds a day job as opening batter for the West Indies women’s team. From the non-striker’s end though she did have a pretty good view of what Hayley Matthews did to the Australia bowlers.
Matthews hit three sixes, one more than what Australia did. Her second six, stepping out and lofting Ellyse Perry went beyond what would have been the boundary line for the men’s final. It was an effort Andre Russell would have been proud of. Taylor got two boundaries in that over, the innings’ sixth, where Perry conceded 16 and after a slow start, the women in maroon were on their way to making history.
In the previous over, Matthews had bludgeoned Megan Schutt’s third ball to a six over midwicket giving the sparse crowd an indication of what she is capable of. The Australians though knew that because of her stint with Hobart Hurricanes in the last Women’s Big Bash League where she once scored 77 off 54 balls.
“I had watched her in bits and pieces and she had had a good series against us, so it wasn’t a surprise. I didn’t want her to do well today but she was pretty hard to stop,” said Australia skipper Meg Lanning whose 52 (49b, 4x8) was put in the shade by Matthews and Taylor.
Never before had any team chased 148 in a women’s World T20 final but Matthews showed that power-hitters aren’t at a premium in the West Indies women’s team as well. Stop us from hitting boundaries first, Sammy had said on Saturday. Who knew he could also be speaking for someone who turned 18 only 15 days ago! And know what? Taylor said they had never even discussed the total. “We just told each other that we could,” said the player who ended the tournament with the highest aggregate of 246 runs and took eight wickets.
By the time Matthews fell, pulling Kristen Beams to Alex Blackwell at midwicket, it was West Indies’ match to lose. Playing without a cap when the spinners were on like MS Dhoni, Taylor too couldn’t steer them home but by then Deandra Dottin had hit successive fours in front of the wicket. The boogies were beginning in the dugout, pre-cursor to the main routine that Caribbean cricket teams seem naturally endowed to perform.
It was Dottin who bowled an incredible last over where Australia scored just one and lost two wickets. “That must have given them some momentum,” said Lanning.
A 0-8 head-to-head record against Australia now reads 1-8. More importantly, it gave the West Indies women their first world title. It happened at a venue where Australia won a men’s and women’s 50-over World Cup but also had their 16-match Test win streak stopped by a team whose then captain is now the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal.
The Eden, Blackwell had said, was a special place for them. Matthews, Taylor and the other girls could say the same now.