This article was first written for and published by the Roar.
There are now just three teams left in the ICC Women’s ODI World Cup after Australia booked their place in the final with an emphatic 157 run win over the West Indies.
This was an important win for the Australian women for historical reasons. Whilst there are plenty of new faces in the squad, some players will remember the 2016 T20 World Cup final where the West Indies beat Australia to become world champions. It was only the second time that the West Indies had beaten Australia and has been a match which has pushed this Australian team to continue to improve.
For Australia, Ellyse Perry was ruled out due to back spasms and Darcie Brown was brought back into the squad (Brown was rested when Australia played the West Indies during the group stages). Unfortunately for the West Indies, spinner Afy Fletcher tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced in the squad by Mandy Mangru.
After being sent in by the West Indies to bat, Australia finished their innings on 3/306 after their 45 overs (play was reduced due to a rain delay), setting the West Indies a target of 306 for victory; a target which proved too big.
Here are the talking points from today’s game.
A masterclass from Australia’s batters
It seems that whenever Alyssa Healy is under the most pressure, she reminds all of us why she is one of the best batters in the world.
Throughout this World Cup, Healy’s scores have been a mixed bag. She has scored 72 twice (against India and Pakistan) and then has struggled to reach the 20s in most of her other innings.
But today, she was magnificent, scoring 129 off 107 balls. Her second fifty came off just 28 balls and her century was her first at a Women’s World Cup.
The benefit of having a player like Healy in the squad is that she knows her role. Given how much talent there is in the batting line-up, losing Healy cheaply is not a deal-breaker (as we have seen throughout this Tournament). Healy can play her natural game and on days like today when it pays off, it is fantastic to watch.
The West Indies will also be rueing missed opportunities, with Healy dropped twice, first by Hayley Matthews in the 26th over and then again by Shakera Selman in the 32nd over. Those drops certainly proved to be costly.
Rachael Haynes continued her brilliant form throughout this Tournament scoring 85 off 100 runs. In this match she surpassed 400 runs for the Tournament.
The 216 run partnership between Haynes and Healy was the highest by any paid in a Women’s World Cup Finals surpassing a record set up Belinda Clark and Lisa Keightley in 2000.
It set Australia up beautifully for their innings with contributions from Meg Lanning and Beth Mooney to come.
Fielding continues to be a major disparity between teams
Unfortunately, the West Indies made their innings in the field much harder than it needed to be with a couple of dropped catches.
The difference between the Aussie team is that when an opportunity for a catch comes up, it is often taken with two hands. In the 3rd over Beth Mooney took a catch at square leg to dismiss opener Rashada Williams for a duck. It was as good a start as Australia could have hoped for.
The next wicket fell shortly after in the 9th over, with Annabel Sutherland taking a catch to dismiss Deandra Dottin on 34.
What happened to the explosive West Indian batting?
The target set by Australia was a large one, but with explosive batters in their line up like Hayley Matthews, Stafanie Taylor and Dottin, there was still an opportunity for one of them to have a big innings and make a contest of it.
In my view this game was over by the first drinks break.
At the end of the 16th over, it was clear that the West Indies were struggling, needing 239 runs from 168 balls. The West Indies were, at this point scoring an average of four runs an over and needed double this to reach the Australian total.
In the 17th over Taylor ran a single from the sixth ball of the over. It was only the fourth run for the West Indies in 25 balls. Not quite the batting we have come to expect from one of the surprise packed finalists in this World Cup.
At times I was unsure of whether I was watching an ODI or a Test match.
Then the wicket of Hayley Matthews fell and the West Indies found themselves in a hole, requiring 215 runs off 134 balls.
When Stefanie Taylor is your highest run scorer with 48 runs, with SIX batters unable to score over eight runs and two batters absent hurt, you know it’s been a tough day at the office.
Australia will now eagerly be watching the game between England and South Africa to see who their opponents will be on Sunday in Christchurch.