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The Big Picture
The Australian Open Women replicated the feats of their Men’s team by sealing a triumphant 10th Indoor Cricket World Cup title, after an exciting six-run win over New Zealand in the final. It again marked Australia’s dominant hold on indoor cricket at the Women’s highest levels while New Zealand went agonisingly close in a high-scoring run-chase after falling three times previously to Australia during the tournament.
New Zealand were the first ones to celebrate though earlier, after an outstanding last four overs saw them beat Australia by one-run in a last-ball thriller and provide the Kiwis with their first Women’s trophy at an Open’s World Cup.
Emerging Cricket recaps how it all went down in Melbourne:
Australia 117 (Vallance 22, Dixon 19, Shaw 16, Bowden 1/2, Krebs 1/7, Matthews 1/13) defeated New Zealand 111 (Bowden 20, Van Tillburg 17, Lilii 16, Shaw 1/5, Iles 1/5, Dixon 0/13) by 6 runs
Umpire: Ben Ridgway (Australia)
Player of the Match: Emily Vallance (Australia)
Player of the Tournament: Samantha Dixon (Australia)
They had to contend with a last-gasp effort from Skye Bowden and Marama Downes, but in the end Australia’s formidable total upfront saw them hold off New Zealand to record a six-run win in the final of the Open Women’s division. It brought the Australians their 10th World Cup title, extending an incredible unbeaten run at the tournament.
Australia had good cause to be confident coming into the contest after beating New Zealand three times during round-robin play and giving themselves straight entry into the final. The New Zealanders meanwhile had to beat South Africa in a preliminary final match the day before, but proved to be too strong for the Proteas, winning comfortably by 54 runs.
Australia set platform with big total
The final would end up being a high-scoring affair, with the lowest pair between both sides being the first of the game, as Laura Shaw and Ashleigh Doble scored 25 to open up. Player of the tournament Samantha Dixon hit 19 off 10 as her and skipper Nicole Martin added a further 27 to have the Australian’s sitting on 52 at the halfway mark.
As New Zealand missed three third-ball opportunities in the first eight overs, Martin remarked she would be happy with 120 as a target. She would get her wish fulfilled as player of the final, Emily Vallance (22 of 11 including one seven) and Madeleine Wright combined for 37 before Neisha Iles and Allison Maxwell scored 28 to have Australia finish on an imposing 117.
New Zealand make a game of tall run chase
While they had gone down in all three contests previously, New Zealand would have been buoyed by their score of 114 chasing 135 against Australia just two days prior. Captain Lucille Matthews and Gemma Krebs made 27 before Regina Lilii and Amberley Parr added 26 as both teams were almost deadlocked after eight overs. By this stage Australia had missed four third-ball chances without taking a New Zealand wicket in the first eight overs. Iles picked up Australia’s first wicket courtesy of a run out, but Aria Mischewski and Natasha Van Tillburg recovered to compile a steady 29 leaving the Kiwis with 36 needed off the last four overs.
Maxwell had Downes stumped in the first over of the pair and Doble was left defending 17 in the final over, or 16 to move to a super over (yes, super overs exist in indoor cricket too). The first few deliveries were tight before Doble bowled a waist-high no-ball to provide New Zealand with a glimmer of hope. With seven needed off the final ball, Bowden could only manage a single to give Australia another memorable win.
With the retirements of Jude Coleman and Briony Polkinghorne since the last World Cup, Australia’s next crop of young players stepped up when it mattered and handed new skipper Nicole Martin her first trophy in charge.
Other Finals Series Results:
Cup Preliminary Final
New Zealand 91 (Van Tillburg 21, Mischewski 15, Bowden 14, Styles 2/2, Wheeler 1/2, Frylinck 1/10) defeated South Africa 37 (Frylinck 16, Tapp 11, Van Der Vyver 6, Bowden 3/-8, Parr 2/-6, Lilii 2/3) by 54 runs to advance to the final
Final Round-Robin Standings (after 12 matches): AUS 77, NZL 59, RSA 42, SGP 0
Australia 88 (Humphries 18, T Gregory 17, Rockliff 14, Apperley 3/-7, Wilson 3/-6, James 1/6) lost to New Zealand 89 (Jetly 19, James 18, Wilson 11, Rockliff 2/-1, A Gregory 1/8, T Gregory 1/10) by 1 run
Umpire: Kiran Mascarenhas (Singapore)
Player of the Match: Aniela Apperley (New Zealand)
Player of the Tournament: Xara Jetly (New Zealand)
A thrilling World Cup final came down to the last ball as New Zealand captain Xara Jetly and Brooke James got the Kiwis home in an exciting last four overs which saw them require 37 to win.
Before the tense finale, Australia set up a solid target for New Zealand to chase. During the round-robin stages, it was the Australians who had the edge after winning two of their three outings, by 12 and 16 runs respectively, while they also shared a 103-all draw. New Zealand comfortably brushed past a gallant, young South African Under-22 outfit in the preliminary final by 76 runs.
Australia set up platform for solid target
But it was Australia who made the early moves, with Alyssa Humphries plundering two deliveries to the back net as she and Chelsea Gan scored 31 first up for the home side. New Zealand hit back almost immediately, with Saffron Wilson taking two wickets in two balls in the fifth over. New Zealand successfully converted two third-ball plays in succession on the second pair of Stephanie Beazleigh and Alanah Gregory as the pair could only manage 9 and Australia’s team score at 40 at the halfway mark of the innings.
Having defended totals of 80, 86 and 103 against New Zealand going into the final, the Australians would have been aiming for 80-90 as a competitive total. Skipper Katrina Dixon and Gregory put behind another early wicket to Wilson by putting on a crucial 31 and set up for Stacy Rockliff and Kiara Wood to finish in that range. New Zealand though continued with their cruial pattern of taking a wicket (or two) in the first over of each pair to stifle the Australians. Player of the match Aniela Apperley struck twice, first bowling Wood and then claiming a third-ball run out to put the pair well behind initially. They recovered in their last three overs to make 17 and set New Zealand an intriguing total of 89 to win.
New Zealand dig deep in exciting run chase
Both teams would have been content at the break, but it was Australia who made the early inroads. Alanah and Taylah Gregory both grabbed a run-out while Alyssa Humphries also picked up a wicket in the first four overs as Wilson and Tatiana Gibbs could only make 10 in the first pair. Apperley and Antonia Hamilton were well placed with 18 after their first three overs, but a third-ball stumping to Rockliff saw them fall in their last over to finish with 16 and the team total on 26.
63 off the last eight overs was always going to be tough while needing to set an achievable total for the last pair. Amie Hucker hit Wood down the ground for five in the ninth over and Anna Browning lifted Humphries for seven in the next to keep New Zealand in the game. Rockliff would again though make a timely strike in the last over of a pair, with a catch off the last ball leaving Jetly, player of the tournament, and James, needing 37 off the last four.
The pair’s ability to turn the strike over and hold their wickets in this period were vital and they achieved this by conceding four dot balls and no dismissals heading into the last over. With her opposing number Dixon delivering the final over, Jetly hit the penultimate delivery into the square leg net for two runs to get the Kiwis into the lead for the first time in the match. James then kept out the last ball out safely to elicit and cheers and celebrations from the New Zealand team in a history-making win.
Other Finals Series Results:
New Zealand 111 (Browning 24, Wilson 23, Hucker 22, Venter 3/-1, Hartman 1/5, Boshoff 0/15) defeated South Africa 35 (Barnard 19, Hartman 11, Venter 9, Apperley 3/-8, Gibbs 3/0, Hucker 2/3 by 76 runs to advance to the final
Final Round-Robin Standings (after 10 matches): AUS 49.5, NZL 36.5, RSA 9