The Caribbean bonding

West Indies captain Merissa Aguilleira and Australia skipper Jodie Fields before the final. The West Indian, in particular, proved an inspirational leader.-Pics. VIVEK BENDRE

The West Indians exceeded expectations by finishing as the world number two side basically due to skipper Merissa Aguilleira’s ability to keep the players pushing in the same direction, writes Nandakumar Marar.

The Women’s World Cup (2013) had a turbulent start when security and political reasons forced Pakistan’s matches to be shifted from Mumbai to Barabati, along with Group B games. The cricket on display was of a high order, as exciting as any seen in men’s limited-over competitions.

Deandra Dottin’s power and timing to hit sixes at will put her in the mould of the fearsome Caribbean batsmen to have graced the game. Australia brought out the best in her both times that the West Indies clashed with the eventual champion.

The first meeting happened at the MIG ground where boundaries are smaller in certain areas and powering the ball over fielders’ heads is easy. But Deandra kept her composure during the Super Six game, refused to be baited into big shots by the sight of fielders in catching positions and hit only one six in a 67-ball 60.

The destructive batter was getting into her groove during the final, swatting the ball to different parts of the Brabourne Stadium when off-spinner Lisa Sthalekar used her experience of 125 ODIs to plot Deandra’s downfall.

Suzie Bates,the Player of the Tournament.-

Spin played a huge part in team tactics right through the competition, influenced by T20 where slow bowlers are usually used by captains to deliver a shock treatment to specialist batters.

Slow bowler Shanel Daley (sending down the first over for West Indies in the WWC 2013 final), off-break bowlers Anisa Mohammed (WI), Erin Osborne (Aus) and left-arm orthodox Holly Colvin (England) were the other specialist spinners seen in attacking roles. Backed by close-in fielders and using flight to tease opponents out of their comfort zone, these exponents of turn and guile had the complete backing of captains.

Spin in its orthodox form remains an offensive weapon in the women’s limited-overs version. Erin Osborne earned 10 wickets in WWC 2013, a reward for her consistency and courage.

West Indies lost to India in the WWC opener, then went on to feature in the title clash after topping the Super Six stage. Skipper Merissa Aguilleira was a constant presence in the heat of battle, as wicket-keeper/captain directing operations and inspiring teammates from behind the wicket and as batter in the middle-order.

The Caribbeans exceeded expectations by finishing as the world number two side basically due to her ability to keep the players pushing in the same direction. Hailing from Trinidad, she believed in God and managed to instill a deep sense of team spirit. Players from different island nations, but clad in maroon, displayed passion and enjoyed each other’s success. “There have been lots of ups and downs, but I guess that’s where the true spirit lies, where you are able to come back from a depth where you don’t feel you are able to and see yourself through. I must say we stuck together as a team. We motivated ourselves.”

Sri Lanka's Eshani Kalyani... a bulldozer of a batter.-

Merissa, smiling through victory and defeat, observed: “We have a lot to be thankful for. Before the tournament, we were fifth in ICC rankings and now finished second. It’s a huge achievement. We got to the final for the first time. Deandra and Stafanie Taylor played well. So many people got a chance to see what Deandra can do out there as a player.”

The West Indies captain repeatedly brought up Sri Lanka as an example, marvelling at the manner in which the island nation was able to punch above its weight.

Defending champion England and experienced India were two mighty sides to fall before the Lankan belligerence. “We showed that the World Cup is an open event and no side can be ignored,” quipped Lankan captain Shashikala Siriwardene. Eshani Kaushalya’s bold batting in the face of a mounting run-rate against England, thus firming up intent for Dilani Manodara to swing a six over mid-wicket off the last ball marked a shift in the way sides qualifying for the Women’s World Cup will be viewed in future.

When the WWC 2013 Team of the Tournament was announced after the final by the ICC, Eshani’s name stood out. The World XI (in batting order): Suzie Bates (New Zealand – captain), Charlotte Edwards (England), Rachael Haynes (Australia), Stafanie Taylor (West Indies), Deandra Dottin (West Indies), Eshani Kaushalya (Sri Lanka), Jodie Fields (wicketkeeper– Australia), Katherine Brunt (England), Holly Colvin (England), Anya Shrubsole (England) and Megan Schutt (Australia). 12th Player: Holly Ferling (Australia).

Suzie Bates was named WWC 2013 ‘Player of the Tournament’ for notching up 407 runs (three half-centuries and a century) at an average of 67.83. She also took four wickets and led New Zealand to fourth place, losing to England in the play-off match. “It was tough watching the World Cup final and not playing in it. On a personal point of view, winning a trophy at the end of this tournament is better than receiving nothing at all. ”

India ended up seventh, defeating Pakistan in the placings play-off. Thirushkamini, Harmanpreet Kaur and Mithali Raj produced excellent individual displays. But, as a group, the host was stunned by Sri Lanka, a World Cup qualifier, and went out of the Super Six.

ICC World Rankings

The ICC world ODI rankings (as on February 18, 2013) lists India skipper Mithali Raj as number one in the batters list, with 747 points, 39 ahead of Kiwis captain Suzie Bates. Swing bowler Jhulan Goswami is third in the bowlers’ list, with 696 points and fifth among world all-rounders in women’s cricket.

Batting: 1. Mithali Raj (India), 2. Suzie Bates (NZ), 3. Stafanie Edwards (WI), 4. Charlotte Edwards (Eng), 5. Meghann Lanning (Aus).

Bowling: 1. Katherine Brunt (Eng), 2. Lisa Sthalekar (Aus), 3. Jhulan Goswami (Ind), 4. Stafanie Taylor (WI), 5.Ellyse Perry (Aus).

All-rounders: 1. Stafanie Taylor (WI), 2. Lisa Sthalekar (Aus), 3. Shanel Daley (WI), 4. Nicola Browne (NZ), 5. Jhulan Goswami (Ind).

ICC Women’s ODI Team rankings: 1. Australia. 2. West Indies. 3. England. 4. New Zealand. 5. Sri Lanka. 6. South Africa. 7. India. 8. Pakistan. 9. Bangladesh. 10. Ireland.