England women fall short in thriller
England women suffered an agonising defeat to Australia as the defence of their ICC World Twenty20 crown got under way in thrilling fashion in St Kitts.
The defending champions lost by virtue of hitting fewer sixes, the match having been tied after 20 overs and also in the super-over eliminator.
England mustered a seemingly below-par 104 at Warner Park after their last four wickets tumbled without addition to negate the impact of Sarah Taylor’s fluent 46 off 44 balls.
A similar collapse undermined Australia’s pursuit but, despite requiring only one run to win off the last three deliveries, they were bowled out for 104 when Beth Morgan ran out Rene Farrell.
Both sides made six for two in the super over, but the fact that Australia hit one six - to England’s none - in their 20-over innings was enough to secure a victory which capped a sensational start to the women’s competition.
"I’m gutted that we lost the game," said England captain Charlotte Edwards. "We clearly needed to score more runs, but our bowling was outstanding and we fought right to the end."
Coach Mark Lane added: "We’ve had a few trial runs at the super over, so we were quite clear on how it was going to work, but unfortunately we were run out.
"We are disappointed, but we didn’t lose the game on the super over; we lost it with the bat in the first innings. Clearly we have areas to work on."
That England took the game to a super over owed much to a battling display with the ball, in which Nicky Shaw figured prominently.
Australia appeared favourites to triumph by conventional means when they needed 10 to win off the last two overs with two wickets in hand.
However, Shaw conceded just two runs and removed the dangerous Lisa Sthalekar in a superb penultimate over to tilt the balance of power in England’s favour.
That changed after Edwards conceded a four off her first ball, but she held her nerve to limit Australia to three runs off the next two deliveries before Farrell's run-out with the scores level.
Shaw finished with admirable figures of 2-10 off three overs, while there were two wickets apiece for Katherine Brunt, Danielle Hazell and Holly Colvin in a bowling display full of character. Sthalekar, meanwhile, took the match award for her 3-29 return.
Taylor was the only player on either side to bat with any freedom on a difficult surface - Leah Poulton’s 23 was the next highest score - but England, as Lane acknowledged, paid the price for being bowled out with 2.3 overs unused.
In the opening game at the same venue earlier in the day, featuring the other teams from Group A, Deandra Dottin became the first centurion in women’s Twenty20 internationals as West Indies beat South Africa by 17 runs.
Dottin, who came to the crease in the 10th over with the hosts 52 for four, smashed 112 not out from 45 balls with seven fours and nine sixes to carry them to 175 for five - the highest total in women's T20 cricket.
South Africa opener Shandre Fritz made 58 and captain Cri-zelda Brits 43 in reply, but West Indies - England’s opponents on Friday - comfortably prevailed.