A spirited West Indies women's side claimed an eight-run victory over Australia at the ICC Women's World Cup India 2013 today to secure itself a spot in the final of the event for the first time in its 40-year history, it is also the first time West Indies has beaten Australia in an ODI. The two teams will face-off again at the Brabourne Stadium on 17 February in a day-night fixture that will be broadcast round the globe in High Definition by the ICC's Broadcast Partner Star Sports.
The victory by West Indies means that New Zealand and current champion England, currently playing in a day/night fixture at CCI, are not able to make the final and the two sides will meet again on 15 February to battle it out in the third-place play-off and a new global ranking.
Meanwhile in Cuttack, Dane van Niekerk starred with the bat and ball to ensure South Africa finished the Super Six stage with a 110-run win over Sri Lanka. The two sides will meet again on Friday in the fifth-place play-off which, no matter the result, will see both sides finish the tournament ranked higher than they entered the event (Sri Lanka is currently seventh, while South Africa is currently eighth in the Reliance ICC Women's ODI Team Rankings).
At the MIG Ground, having won the toss Merissa Aguilleira elected to bat against Australia and the side was dismissed for 164 before squeezing the Australian batting with some tight bowling to dismiss the finalists for 156 to complete a historic win. It was West Indies' first ever win over Australia in an ODI fixture and in return Australia's first loss of the ICC Women's World Cup 2013.
West Indies batting proved to be inconsistent, at one point, the side was reeling at 7-92 in the 25th over, before all-rounder Deandra Dottin, demoted to number seven for today's game, propped up the batting attack with a dazzling 60 runs, including ten fours and a six to help West Indies reach 164.
The Australian bowling attack once again proved disciplined, bowling good line and lengths to keep the side in check and star bowlers, Holly Ferling (3-27) and Megan Schutt (3-50) were the pick of the Southern Stars team.
Australia looked likely to secure victory, when in the 39th over it was 130-4 but all went wrong for the current ICC Women's World Twenty champions when it lost its last six wickets for just 26 runs. Australia was in trouble early, losing stylish opener Meg Lanning, bowled by left-arm spinner Shanel Daley. Lanning's opening partner Rachael Haynes was next out with the score at 32. Jess Cameron and Lisa Sthalekar attempted to stabalise the innings but it was up to captain and vice-captain, Jodie Fields and Alex Blackwell, to try and resurrect the innings with a 41-run partnership.
But Blackwell's dismissal for 45 triggered a mini collapse as the side lost three wickets for one run. The lower order failed to provide the required runs, with two run-outs and thus helping the West Indies secure itself a place in the ICC Women's World Cup final for the first time.
Aguillera was elated after the win: "Words cannot express what I am feeling right now. I am completely overwhelmed. We have been through a lot as a team. Our bowlers did a fantastic job today. I felt some panic happening in their camp and I think that's the time we started to attack them more. We realised that as long as we were bowling in correct areas, we will get wickets and that's exactly what happened."
While all the batters generally struggled on the slow wicket, Player of the Match Dottin was the only one who was able to break the shackles and play freely. "Deandra has a natural ability to stroke the ball well. It's a God-given talent. She is using it well, but she is not using it enough though," admitted Aguillera.
Australia captain Fields was disappointed with the first loss of the tournament. "I don't think it's ever good to have a loss. We came out today to win the match. We wanted to go through the tournament undefeated, but credit to the West Indies. They played well today. We have to go away now and focus on training. We are going to play them in the final. At least we got a chance to look at what they are doing in their game and hopefully it should help us in the final," said Fields.
Australia lost three wickets to run-outs in the chase, but Fields did not think it was something to be worried about going into the final. "We lost couple of wickets to running between the wickets. But I am happy to see the girls be positive. We had to score runs and sometime you have to take risks and to West Indies' credit, they got some run outs. It is something we will go away and work on before the finals."
In Cuttack, Dane van Niekerk's all-round performance helped South Africa beat Sri Lanka by a massive 110-runs margin in its final Super Six match at the Barabati Stadium on Wednesday.
This match was a dress rehearsal to the fifth place play-off match between the two sides, which will be played at the same ground on Friday, 15 February.
Sri Lanka's regular captain, Shashikala Siriwardena, did not feature in the game owing to illness and Sandamali Dolawatta led the side in her absence.
Asked to bat, South Africa posted 227 for eight in its 50 overs and in its reply Sri Lanka was shot out for just 117 in 36.4 overs.
Earlier, former captain Cri-Zelda Brits (52: 69b, 4x4, 3x6) and Shandre Fritz (64: 71b, 10x4) added 70 runs for the fourth wicket to lead South Africa to a strong position. Some late-order flourish from van Niekerk (40 off 38 balls) helped South Africa to finish on a high.
For Sri Lanka, Chamani Seneviratna was the best bowler on view with figures of three for 44.
In its response, Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals. Except for Chamari Atapattu (63: 74, 9x4) and skipper Dolawatta (21) none of the other batters made any contributions. Atapattu and Dolawatta added 61 runs for the fourth wicket, which was the only highlight of the innings.
For South Africa, van Niekerk was the best wicket-taker with four for 18 which also fetched herthe player of the match award. Pace bowler, Shabnim Ismail who has had a good tournament for the Protea ladies picked up two for 22 to help the side to victory.
"I think the bowlers conceded a little too many, 230 was a tough score and while we batted except for Atapattu no one contributed, that is where we lost it. I think it was important for the openers to play at least 15 overs and set the platform, but once that didn't happen we just lost our way completely.
"We didn't adjust quickly to this wicket here in Cuttack because it was the first time we were playing here, but I am confident we can bounce back in the play-off. There was nothing wrong with the pitch honestly, we played some poor strokes," said a disappointed Dolawatta.
South Africa captain du Preez was delighted with her squad's performance. "I think if we could have come up with this kind of performance earlier, we could have fought for the third/fourth playoff, but then the girls played brilliantly today. Hats off to them," said du Preez.
Despite the win, du Preez felt the opening partnership was a cause for concern for her side and wished for better returns on Friday.
"I think our problem has been that we've been struggling to get a foundation upfront and that happened once again, so we had to consolidate (mid-way). Today it was a little damp because of the overcast conditions, so we wanted to just give ourselves a chance to spend time in the middle. We knew if we did that we could catch up towards the end and we did," added du Preez.
Player of the match van Niekerk explained how she has been able to grow as a player. "Initially I began as a bowler, but now my role is that of an all-rounder and I see myself as someone who can bat anywhere required.
"The team needed me to bat at six today and I was prepared for it and it came off well. I'm a naturally aggressive batter, obviously with short boundaries on one end, I just tried to pick that side of the ground and it came off superbly,"' said van Niekerk.
A round-up of the current match between New Zealand and England will be released later this evening, once the match has concluded.