West Indies and New Zealand qualified for the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012, after recording victories on the final day of Group B matches in Galle on Sunday.
A strong all-round performance by Stafanie Taylor cemented a West Indies victory over South Africa by 10 wickets, while New Zealand defeated host Sri Lanka by eight wickets, with 26 balls remaining.
In the first match of the day, South Africa struggled to find its rhythm after being sent in to bat first. West Indies’ strategy of stifling South Africa with spin proved to be the right one on the day. Taylor's triple strike in her first two overs left South Africa reeling at 11 for five in the eighth over. Coming in at No.7, Dane van Niekerk steadied the ship and notched up 29, while Shabnim Ismail put together a careful 16, to help the team to reach a total of 70 from its 20 overs.
Stafanie Taylor was the pick of the bowlers with figures of three for 10 in four overs, while Shaquana Quintyne took two wickets.
In reply, Taylor was at the forefront of the run chase with a fierce 33 not out. Giving her company was Juliana Nero who was unbeaten on 30, and the two chased down a modest 71 in 9.4 overs to win by ten wickets.
“Last night, we analysed each of their players,” said West Indies captain Merissa Aguilleira afterwards, adding: “We had specific plans in place. We played a couple of warm-ups, so we had an idea of what to expect against them.”
Aguilleira said her team had focused on keeping things simple and playing with an uncluttered mind. “We knew we had quality and ability. The match against Sri Lanka wasn't up to our standards, so we just spoke about improving and playing without any worry, because qualification to the semi-finals was well within our reach.”
Taylor, who was named player of the match, also reached the landmark of 1,000 runs in Women's Twenty20 Internationals during her knock. She was at ease in the role expected of her. “I've always put the team's interest ahead of mine,” she said. “I enjoy my role as an all-rounder, so it is quite easy for me to divide my time between bat and ball at the nets.
“The pitch was really good, but I think the defensive mindset of the South African batters played into my hands.”
South Africa captain Mignon du Preez admitted that nerves had affected her team’s performance: “I would be lying if I say we weren't nervous. A place in the semi-finals was at stake, we were all looking forward to it. We had a good enough side, but we panicked when we lost three early wickets and there was no way out.”
New Zealand defeat Sri Lanka
In the final group B match, a confident New Zealand put up a dominant performance to defeat Sri Lanka by eight wickets to seal its progression to the semi-finals.
Sri Lanka looked on target to post a formidable total in the first few overs when they reached 37 for one in the sixth over before they lost its last nine wickets for 52 runs in nearly 11 overs to be bowled out for 89 in 17.4 overs.
The bowling honours were shared equally by Sian Ruck, Erin Bermingham and Morna Nielsen, who picked up two wickets apiece.
In response, New Zealand chased down the target in 15.4 overs. Despite losing Suzie Bates for 16, the in-form Sophie Devine and Amy Satterthwaite made full use of the field restrictions to plunder 42 off the first six overs. Devine was run out for 23, but Satterthwaite finished not out on 32, with three boundaries. Frances Mackay was unbeaten on 13 when victory was sealed.
New Zealand’s margins of victory against South Africa and Sri Lanka suggests that the team is peaking at the right time, but Bates felt the semi-final would be a different ball game. "In the previous two editions, we breezed into the tournament without any difficulty, but here we were given a tough start,” she said. “We had to really improve, to say we weren't challenged would be wrong.”
Bates was pleased with her side’s improved bowling, saying: “We wanted to address the issue of inconsistency with the ball. After an off day with the ball against West Indies, as a side we've picked ourselves up which is a very good sign.”
Reflecting on her side’s loss, Sri Lanka captain Shashikala Siriwardena felt that the pressure got to the team. “Once again, the batting collapse cost us big," she said. “We looked to get close to 120 and then with five spinners, we knew if we picked up early wickets, there was a chance. But New Zealand was too good for us today.”
Scorecard: South Africa Vs West Indies
Scorecard: Sri Lanka Vs New Zealand