West Indies women enter first World T20 final

West Indies women entered the final of the ICC World Twenty20 after beating New Zealand women by six runs in the second semi-final.

West Indian skipper Stafanie Taylor and her team celebrate Sara McGlashan's dismissal.   -  Vivek Bendre

The West Indies Women turned in an utterly professional display to stun New Zealand Women by six runs at the Wankhede on Thursday afternoon. A compact all-round show enabled Stefanie Taylor’s boisterous outfit to ward off its infamous ICC World Twenty20 semi-final curse at the fourth time of asking. The Women in Maroon will now take on the rampaging Southern Stars from Australia in Sunday’s final at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

> Run-out by Deandra Dottin changed the game, says Stafanie Taylor.

It’s imperative that we spare a thought for the White Ferns, who like its male counterparts, won every group game but perished at the most inopportune of times. But, it was the West Indies’ day.

Promoted to No. 3, Britney Cooper smashed her way to a dazzling 61 off 48 balls (5x4, 2x6) as the West Indies Women posted a very healthy 143 for the loss of six wickets on a dry surface tailor-made.

Sara McGlashan (38, 39b, 2x4), Amy Satterthwaite (24, 29b, 1x4) and their fourth-wicket stand of 59 did worry the Windies, but the duo’s departure off successive deliveries put paid to New Zealand’s hopes.

Cooper came into this game with just 11 runs from three outings at No. 5, No. 3 and No. 6. Naturally, she was desperate to make amends on Thursday. The manner in which the busy 26-year-old right-hander from Trinidad took apart the Kiwi attack was awe-inspiring. Employing minimum risk, she negotiated both pace and spin with ease. By collecting the occasional boundary and running well between the wickets, she ensured her team had its nose in front after Morna Nielsen got rid of Hayley Matthews in the third over.

When it comes to crunch matches, big players are hell-bent on delivery what they call a statement of intent. Cooper’s consecutive sixes off-spinner Leigh Kasperek in the 17th over were just that. When on 48, she danced down the wicket and hit the bowler over long-on, where the fielder did her bit to parry the ball over the ropes. The very next ball, she smashed the white cherry over long-off.

Cooper stitched two crucial partnerships — 60 for the second wicket with skipper Stefanie Taylor (25, 26b, 2x4) and 44 for the next with Deandra Dottin (17b, 2x4).

The fact that Kasperek, the leading wicket-taker in this edition of the tournament, went wicketless speaks volumes about the West Indies’ intentions of leaving her high and dry. They couldn’t, however, stop Sophie Devine from registering career-best figures of four for 22. Devine would contribute 22 (14b, 4x4) with the bat, too, but a direct hit from Dottin was enough to send her back.

McGlashan and Satterthwaite rescued New Zealand from dire straits — 49 for three — but Taylor would bring her team back in the contest with her unique brand of ‘hopping’ off-spin to have both caught in the deep. That she did so when the Kiwis needed 37 off four overs with enough wickets in hand was exemplary.

New Zealand needed 30 off the last three, 25 off two and 19 off the final over. There was no way the West Indies was going to allow that. Incredibly, it sealed the match with another run-out to cap off a great day in the field.

The resulting celebrations would have put Gayle, Bravo and the rest to shame. Probably it was the ladies’ way of telling the men, “Over to you, now.”

Stefanie said: “It feels great to be in a final. We have been waiting for this for four times. We’re really looking forward to it. We are going to be here looking out and hoping for another win (for the men). I do think we could win it, I think if we are consistent enough, we can definitely pull it off.”

Player of the match, Britney, said: “Congrats to my amazing team. We worked really hard. This is our fourth semi-final and to finally cross this border (feels great)... First of all, I’d like to thank the coach for the opportunity to bat at No. 3 and I hope I score another 61 in the finals.”

White Ferns skipper Suzie said: “Credit to the West Indies for the way they came out with the bat, and Cooper’s innings. It’s been an outstanding tournament. The girls have got around India too. We were just on the wrong side of a very good performance.”

Brief scores:

West Indies Women 143 for six in 20 overs (Stefanie Taylor 25, Britney Cooper 61, Deandra Dottin 20; Sophie Devine four for 22, Morna Nielsen one for 14) bt New Zealand Women 137 for eight in 20 overs (Sophie Devine 22, Sara McGlashan 38, Amy Satterthwaite 24; Shamilia Connell one for 22, Afy Fletcher one for 20, Stefanie Taylor three for 26, Shaquana Quintyne one for 11) by six runs.