New Delhi: Twice in the ICC Women's World T20 2016 group stage, England women left it to the very end before scraping through. In the semi-final against Australia yesterday, however, their luck ran out.
Australian players celebrate the fall of an England wicket during World T20 semifinals. Pic/ AFP
Their middle-order frailties were badly exposed and their run in the tournament brought to a halt with a five-run loss. England won the toss and opted to chase on a good batting wicket in the knockout clash between the Ashes rivals at the Feroz Shah Kotla. The decision backfired, as their batters could not cope with the pressure of the run-rate, allowing Australia to seal a place in their fourth straight Women's World T20 final.
Meg Lanning, the Australian captain, scored her second fifty of the tournament to help improve Australia's T20 head-to-head record against England, which stood at 10-14 in England's favour before this match. Her 55 off just 50 balls lifted the side to 132-6, which proved too much for England.
Tammy Beaumont and Charlotte Edwards, the England openers, raced to 40 for no loss in the Power Play, helped by some sloppy fielding from the Australians and a generous helping of extras (17 at the end of the match). Beaumont was dropped twice in the fourth over, either side of some breathtaking shots, including the first six of the match, a sublime flick over square leg off Ellyse Perry.
Edwards, the leading run-scorer of the tournament, having spoken of playing 360º in the pre-match press conference, walked the talk, unfurling paddle and reverse sweeps to complement her excellent leg-side play.
After Edwards fell for 31 off 29 balls, the Southern Stars could have sent back Sarah Taylor for four, but Elyse Villani dropped a running catch at long on. Yet, tight bowling meant the required run-rate went up steadily. The pressure got to Beaumont, who top-edged Megan Schutt (2-15).
With 43 required off the last six overs, Perry doubled the pressure, conceding just one run and rearranging Natalie Sciver's stumps in the 15th over. Heather Knight holed out soon after, and Taylor's attempt at 360º-cricket proved her downfall when she scooped a slower ball straight to the wicketkeeper.
Kathrine Brunt hit a four and a six to offer England hope, but she was quickly dismissed and the equation of 21 runs off the last two overs was too much for England's lower order.
Australia 132-6 in 20 overs (M Lanning 55, A Healy 25; N Sciver 2-22, L Marsh 1-18) beat England 117-8 in 20 overs (T Beaumont 32, C Edwards 31; M Schutt 2-15) by five runs