Australia beat SA for fresh hattrick of Women’s T20 World Cup wins

Feb 26, 2023 11:43 PM IST

The 19-run win over hosts South Africa sealed their sixth T20 World Cup victory overall, and 13 World Cup titles across both white-ball formats.

The juggernaut that the Australian women’s team is added another World Cup title on Sunday. Meg Lanning’s team romped to a second hat-trick of Women’s T20 World Cup titles with an assured 19–run win over hosts South Africa in the final at Newlands, Cape Town.

Cape Town, South Africa, Feb 26 (ANI): Australian players celebrate with trophy after winning the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023, at Newlands, in Cape Town on Sunday. (ANI Photo)(ICC Twitter)
Cape Town, South Africa, Feb 26 (ANI): Australian players celebrate with trophy after winning the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023, at Newlands, in Cape Town on Sunday. (ANI Photo)(ICC Twitter)

South Africa shone at times but their hopes of turning a first Cup final, men or women, into victory were dashed against opponents far too experienced and skilled to let go big games.

Defending champions Australia have had blips in this campaign, but the dominant force in world women’s cricket took control after opener Beth Mooney’s unbeaten 74 off 53 balls (9x4, 1x6) and Ashleigh Gardner’s 21-ball 29 helped post 156/6, a challenging total on a slow pitch.

South Africa started their chase too slow and could not sustained late momentum as they were restricted to 137/6. With 27 to get off the last six balls, Australia signed off with some statement as Ashleigh Gardner, bowling off-spin, did not concede a boundary with sharp fielding on the boundary ensuring that.

Gardner was declared the Player-of-the-Tournament (110 runs, 10 wickets) while Mooney was named the Player-of-the-Final. It was Australia’s 13th white-ball World Cup title overall.

Australia were jolted in the semi-finals when India almost chased down the total in what could have been a major upset. But putting up a total and then bringing pressure on the opposition in the chase is something they have done so many times. That experience as winning big games stood out in how the winners of five of the seven previous T20 World Cups handled the final.

Australia elected to bat on a Newlands pitch that played slow and South Africa, buoyant after upstaging England in the semi-final, kept the batters quiet when they dug the ball in short or pulled back the length to bowl slower. Anything pitched up, or too short was dealt with severely.

An emotional South Africa took the field. It was the country’s first ICC World Cup final, while Marizanne Kapp was in tears as spouse Dane van Niekerk, a certainty in the Cup squad until her omission for failing a fitness test, was missing out.

Australia managed only 36/1 in the six powerplay overs after Alyssa Healy (18 – 20b), the more aggressive of the openers, was foxed by a slow bouncer from Kapp, an awkward heave going straight to Nadine de Klerk at extra cover. The left-handed Mooney saw through South Africa plans to get her caught by a ring of off-side fielders, though skipper Sune Luus rotated her bowlers and took off pace to restrict her early on.

Mooney warmed up, hitting the medium pace of Kapp past cover and Ayabonga Khaka for early fours. It was her 54 that gave Australia stability against India, and the 29-year-old showed her maturity, even playing out a maiden from pacer Shabnim Ismail in the sixth over, before stepping up scoring to reach her third half-century of the tournament, off 44 deliveries.

Ash Gardner hit a 21-ball 29, including two consecutive sixes off de Klerk, before holing out Cloe Tryon’s slow left-arm to Sune Luus at long off. Though Grace Harris and Meg Lanning too fell to slow deliveries, South African bowlers didn’t bowl slow and shorter often enough.

South Africa’s chase got off to a slow start though their hopes rose when opener Laura Wolvaardt (61 – 48b, 5x4, 3x6) and Chloe Tryon (25 – 23 b) raised a 55-run fourth wicket partnership. But Laura, in full flow, fell leg before to Megan Schutt in the 18th over and Tryon followed two balls later, it was effectively curtains for South Africa.

“It's pretty special from the group,” Meg Lanning said. “All teams came hard at us but super proud. It was about enjoying the process and do what we were doing. It was about keeping things simple when the pressure is on.”

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