Lanning leads Aussie women into World T20 final

Put in to bat on a hot sunny afternoon in New Delhi, Australia posted a competitive 132 for six after Lanning's 50-ball 55 before its bowlers then restricted England to 127 for seven.

Australia's Meg Lanning in action against England in the ICC Women's World T20 semifinal match at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi.   -  PTI

There are matches that teams win. And then there are games that teams contrive to lose, inexplicably, from a position of strength. The England women's team would fit into the second category after imploding miserably to lose by five runs in the World T20 semifinal against defending champion Australia here on Wednesday.

The last time the two met in the semifinals of the competition in 2009, the inaugural edition, England had emerged winner. It then went on to lift the title.

There was to be no repeat this time though. The unbeaten side's middle-order was exposed brutally by the Aussie women, who booked their place in the final for the fourth time in succession. Chasing 132, England was only able to reach 127 for seven in 20 overs, owing to a combination of nerves and reckless shots.

Australia captain Meg Lanning, named Player of the Match, had said her team would be aggressive and she stuck to her promise both with the bat and the ball. Her 50-ball 55 was the highlight of the Aussie innings and her two brilliant catches to dismiss the well-set England openers, Charlotte Edwards and Tammy Beaumont, ensured the chase would not materialise.

England elected to field on a good batting wicket and it looked for a while that Charlotte had taken the right call before her batters failed to cope with the pressure of the climbing run-rate. Despite Lanning's innings and a quick start by openers Alyssa Healy and Elyse Villani, Australia would have felt it was at least 15 runs short, thanks mainly to some exceptional fielding from the English including two direct run- outs from the deep by Natalie Scriver and Anya Shrubsole, the latter sending back Lanning.

But England's chase disintegrated in the last seven overs, going from 61 for no loss in nine overs to 127 for seven in 20, losing six wickets for just 39 runs. Australia fought back to prove why it is a three-time defending champion, diving around to save runs and bowling a tight line that forced England to go for the big shots.

To begin with, Charlotte and Tamsin farmed the field, the placing and timing of their shots a delight to watch. Batting looked easy and everything Meg Lanning tried in terms of fielding and bowling changes was swept away. With 17 extras, it looked like England would finally exact revenge for its previous two losses in final.

That was not to be as Lanning stepped up to finally break the partnership with a brilliant catch at mid-off to dismiss her opposite number in the 10th over. The scoring rate dropped but the runs kept coming till Tammy was at the crease before Lanning, running in from cover, dived in front to snap up another catch.

The rest of the batting just couldn't measure up to the job at hand as Ellyse Perry and co. tightened the screws to keep the Southern Stars shining.

After the match Australia captain Meg Lanning said: “We knew the Powerplays were crucial and that got us ahead. We were able to build on the momentum. I thought it was a fantastic start from our openers. It was a decent wicket but bowling straight on the stumps was hard to hit and we tried to execute that.

"England had the momentum in the first 10 overs but we were able to pick up wickets. That kept us in the game so full credit to bowlers. With the platform we had, we could have got more runs, we were just about par at the halfway. I thought the bowlers did a great job,” said Lanning.

England captain Edwards was straightforward in her assessment of the match: “We know a lot about each other and play a lot together as well now. There are no secrets between us. We came back brilliantly with the ball and we were happy chasing that score. However, we lost our way after a good start. We kind of lost our way in the 11-15 overs through some decent bowling and lost some crucial wickets.

"Australia held its nerve and that was the difference. We did not start well with the ball, but dragged it back. It was not meant to be for us today,” concluded Edwards.

The scores: Australia 132 for six in 20 overs (Meg Lanning 55, Alyssa Healy 25; Natalie Sciver two for 22) beat England 127 for seven in 20 overs (Tamsin Beaumont 32, Charlotte Edwards 31; Megan Schutt two for 15) by five runs.