ICC Women’s T20 World Cup – Resounding win for Australia in decider


I know this article is about cricket rather than rugby league, but please allow me a little diversion, and see where it leads.


Remember the very start of the 1994 New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) Grand Final?


Canberra kicks off after Canterbury chooses to run into a stiff and swirling wind in the first half. The ball bounces around in the in-goal area where Bulldogs front-rower Martin Bella reaches to field the ball, and he knocks it on. The ensuing goal-line drop-out is shallow as the ball holds up in the air due to the wind, and suddenly the Bulldogs are on the back foot.


It truly was a case of “one team was never in the game”, as Canberra inflicted a 36-12 beating to give Mal Meninga a fitting farewell from the club scene. (Only two weeks earlier, the Bulldogs had beaten the Raiders in a tight match that went into extra time.)


It was much the same in the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final on Sunday, right from the first delivery.


Indian off-spinner Deepti Sharma bowled a full toss, which Australian wicketkeeper-batter Alyssa Healy hammered for four. From that point, the contest was heavily one-sided from start to end while one team was never in the hunt.


When the teams met just over two weeks earlier, India emerged triumphant. Australian captain Meg Lanning somewhat surprisingly chose to bowl first on that occasion, before electing to bat first in the decider. It’s easy to say in hindsight that the decision at the coin toss proved pivotal in both the 1994 NSWRL grand final and the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final.


Yet it’s easy to overlook just how differently the two matches could have panned out, had a couple of things gone slightly differently in the opening stages.


Five tackles after Bella’s clanger in the 1994 NSWRL decider, a kick from Ricky Stuart went straight to Bulldogs fullback Scott Wilson. Had Wilson taken a relatively simple catch, the Bulldogs would have had a 20-metre restart and survived the early pressure while not conceding a point. Instead, the Bulldogs had to drop-kick from their posts again, and this time it led to the opening try. The tone of the game was set, which also turned out to be the case in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final.


Sharma’s second and third deliveries were also full tosses – albeit they cost only one run each – before the fourth ball landed on the pitch, only for Healy to register another boundary.


But next ball the Indians had the chance to turn the tide, much like Scott Wilson had the chance in the 1994 NSWRL decider. Healy presented a relatively simple catch in the covers, but the catch was spilled.


To make matters worse, another four from the next ball made the score 0-14 after one over when it could have been 1-10 after five balls with the dangerous Healy dismissed.


Having been reprieved on 9, Healy went on to make a scintillating 75 off 39 balls, including seven fours and five sixes.


Another chance for India to break through came in the fourth over with the score already looking ominous at 0-36. With just 8 runs to her name, Beth Mooney offered a low return catch to Rajeshwari Gayakwad, but this crucial chance also went begging.


Mooney, who was later named player of the tournament, cashed in as she went on to make 78 not out off 54 balls, including 10 fours.


Having taken 4-19 against Australia last time, leg-spinner Poonam Yadav could not work wonders in the decider.


Healy and Mooney used their feet superbly to the spinners and were judicious in their strokeplay, as both batters struck the ball cleanly without resorting to reckless hitting. In the eighth over, Healy advanced Gayakwad and lofted two consecutive deliveries over the boundary.


Twelve runs in the 10th over took the total to 0-91, before the next over featured 23 runs. Mooney registered a four and a single, before Healy smote three glorious sixes from successive balls. The last of them, over extra cover, was a contender for shot of the tournament.


In the next over, the first wicket fell at 115 as Healy sought another six but was caught at long-on.


Lanning contributed 16 before she departed, followed by Ash Gardner and Rachael Haynes, who comically swatted a delivery into her wicket from well outside off stump.


Misfields as well as the two crucial dropped catches were particularly costly, and the upshot was that India needed 185 runs to win the competition.


Sixteen-year-old star Shafali Verma showed her style as she lofted the first ball straight over the bowler’s head and earned two runs. Was this a sign that India was going to give it a real shake?


Alas, two deliveries later India’s chances were virtually dead and buried. Verma – who was India’s standout batter with a strike rate and run tally of 161 in the round-robin matches – edged a Megan Schutt delivery to the gleeful keeper.


To add injury to insult, Taniya Bhatia was forced to retire hurt in the next over after a delivery deflected into her helmet. With the last ball of the second over, Jemimah Rodrigues chanced her arm and succeeded only in hitting a catch to mid-on.


It was a similar tale for many Indian batters, while the Australians took some well-judged catches and saved some runs with athletic fielding. Mooney and Nicola Carey held three catches each while Gardner held two, including the last one as she ran in from deep mid wicket with five balls remaining and India 86 runs shy of victory.


Bizarrely, India used 12 batters as Richa Ghosh was allowed to substitute for Bhatia. With 33 runs to her name, Deepti Sharma scored exactly a third of India’s total.


Schutt (4-18) and Jess Jonassen (3-20) were the pick of the bowlers while Carey, Sophie Molineux and Delissa Kimmince claimed one wicket each. For the second successive match, Georgia Wareham didn’t bat or bowl. But she was still elated, as shown when she held the microphone in the aftermath of the victory.


Australia’s win came before a crowd of 86,174, which fell 4011 short of the record crowd for an international women’s sporting fixture, after there were hopes that Sunday night’s figure might eclipse the record from the 1999 women’s soccer World Cup Final in California.


With the Australians having skated on thin ice since losing to India in round one, and been in danger of bowing out of the semi-finals when rain wreaked havoc, there was little doubt that the host nation was a deserving victor.


Having missed fast bowler Tayla Vlaeminck for the entire tournament due to injury, Australia also missed the injured Molineux until the finals series, and had to play the semi-final and final without the renowned Ellyse Perry. Yet the Australians overcame these setbacks. The hosts didn’t play their best cricket during the tournament as they had big expectations to live up to, but they ultimately qualified for the big match and then showed their experience as they produced a peak all-round performance in the decider.


Click here for video highlights and photos from the match.


See the Australian skipper’s post-match response here.


Also, check the post-match press conference here.


It’s hard to say if the Indians simply crumbled under pressure, or were overawed by the occasion, or just “didn’t turn up” in the match that mattered the most. I prefer to think it was “just one of those days when nothing went right for them”. These days happen to everyone at some stage.


The Indians could still hold their heads high after being undefeated in the tournament until the decider. With a lot of youth in the team, it’s a case of onwards and upwards. Their players will be better for the experience and should learn more from a loss than a win, particularly on the biggest stage.


While understandably looking dejected with their heavy defeat, the Indians should be more determined next time, and be raring to go.


Let’s not forget that after their nightmare defeat in the 1994 NSWRL grand final, the Bulldogs thumped Canberra in the 1995 preliminary final and went on to win the grand final the following weekend.


Meanwhile, having won the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup for the fifth time in seven attempts, and achieved the distinction of winning on home soil, Australia remains the envy of other cricketing nations in the women’s game at least as much as in the men’s game.


Although the Australians were raging favourites at the start of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup and were largely expected to win the main prize, one should not forget that there was plenty of interesting and spirited cricket throughout the tournament. There was a lot of fine talent across the board while the level of interest in the competition should encourage more women and girls to take up the wonderful game of cricket.


Lastly, I have put together my Team of the tournament: Beth Mooney (Australia), Shafali Verma (India), Alyssa Healy (Australia), Natalie Sciver (England), Heather Knight (England), Jess Jonassen (Australia), Hayley Jensen (New Zealand), Sophie Ecclestone (England), Poonam Yadav (India), Anya Shrubsole (England), Megan Schutt (Australia).





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About Liam Hauser

A Queenslander through and through, Liam went out of his comfort zone as he had a thoroughly worthwhile time in Tumut and Gundagai from 2008 to 2016 before enjoying a year in Gunnedah. His strongest sporting interests are State of Origin, Sheffield Shield, Test cricket and the NRL. His sporting CV doesn’t have many highlights, although he once top-scored in a warehouse cricket match with 54 not out at number 10, and shared in an unbroken last wicket stand of 83 with the number 11 who scored an undefeated 52. Liam has written books including State of Origin 40 Years, A Century of Cricket Tests, A History of Test Cricket, The Immortals of Australian Cricket, The Immortals of Australian Rugby League, and The Great Grand Finals: Rugby League's Greatest Contests. Also a huge fan of Electric Light Orchestra.


  1. Liam, thanks for keeping us up to date with these summaries and in some cases detailed reports. It was an enjoyable tournament. I think, as a result of the exposure across numerous outlets, more people will feel they know the Australians, and some of the ineternationals, much better.

  2. citrus bob says

    Totally agree JTH. A fine coverage Liam and I hope Cricket Australia take note.
    Would Knackers agree that Alysse Healy is the happiest sportsperson around followed closely by Ashleigh Barty? Wish there were more like them.

  3. Liam Hauser says

    Thanks for your comments JTH and Citrus Bob. Let’s also spare a thought for Shafali Verma, who was inconsolable. It’s a pity she had a day to forget: dropping Healy in the first over and later being dismissed third ball. But let’s remember she’s only 16. She certainly doesn’t deserve to feel like she let her team or her country down on the big day. She was a real winner throughout the tournament with her sparkling batting. She thoroughly deserved a place in the Team of the Tournament. Other players have had setbacks, e.g. Justin Hodges had a nightmare State of Origin debut, and Steve Waugh was once dropped from the Test cricket team. What was more telling than these setbacks was how they fought back so well and had ample success. I really hope Shafali Verma has a lot of successful and happy days ahead of her.

  4. Liam Hauser says

    In fact, many of Australia’s greatest batsmen had resounding success after they were dropped from the Test team following failure: Don Bradman, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden etc.

  5. Ian Hauser says

    Thanks for your coverage of the tournament, Liam. The final was a case of ‘catches win matches’ – the two missed by India cost them dearly while the Australians caught everything in sight. My hope is that the Indian girls don’t cop too much criticism at home. They are young and acquitted themselves well here. They have the basis of a very good team for a few years ahead. But full credit to the Australians who won ugly more than once, got through to the final by the grace of the Sydney ground staff, and then nailed it on the day. Beth Mooney makes an art form out of flying under the radar and deserves a higher profile in the sport.

  6. John Butler says

    Thanks for your efforts, Liam.

    That first over told the tale – Healy seized the initiative and India couldn’t take the chances offered. After that, they never really looked like getting back in the contest.

    Enjoyed the night in spite of the auditory assault from MC’s and PA.


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