Australia 156 for 6 (Mooney 74*, Ismail 2-26, Kapp 2-35) beat South Africa 137 for 6 (Wolvaardt 61, Tryon 25, Gardner 1-20) by 19 runs
Let no one influence you into believing this was a choke.
Truth be told, this was a game of high-intensity cricket, fitting of a grand finale. The pressure was immense, and Australia, more skilled and adept at handling big-match temperament – this was their seventh straight final – came up triumphs to clinch their sixth T20 World Cup title and their third in a row.
South Africa needed 59 off 30 balls, with Wolvaardt pumping a packed Newlands crowd with some of the most aesthetically-pleasing shots. Then, much to their agony, she swiped across the line to a full delivery from Megan Schutt and was trapped lbw. South African hearts sank, a teary Wolvaardt trudged off slowly, and boisterous applause gave way to stunned silence.
Australia believed and Australia delivered.
Dangerous Healy falls early
Ashleigh Gardner revs up
Mooney keeps calm, bats through
Ellyse Perry, Grace Harris and Lanning fed off this confidence, knowing they had insurance in the form of Mooney, to play their shots. While Ismail returned to pick up two wickets in the final over and concede just two off her last four deliveries, Australia had put up a formidable score. Mooney finished with an unbeaten 53-ball 74, her second straight half-century in a world tournament final.
South Africa’s slow powerplay
South Africa needed a big powerplay to allay some of their nerves that had been a constant feature, and understandably so, right through the game. They limped to 22 for the loss of Tazmin Brits in the powerplay, and allowed stage fright to gnaw at them slowly. It was a bizarre passage too. South Africa had an lbw reprieve, there were mis-hits, tight bowling and uncharacteristic misfields. The asking rate jumped past 10 and the heat was on.
The run-out that shouldn’t have been
Boundaries had been a rarity in the first six overs, but Wolvaardt’s first two were delightful. The hit down the ground off Darcie Brown as she erred on the fuller side was an on-drive out of the top drawer, as was her skip down the pitch while moving leg side of the ball to wallop an inside-out six off Jess Jonassen. But just when South Africa appeared to be wresting back some momentum, they lost Kapp to a slog and Luus to a run-out, with both her and Wolvaardt nearly stranded at the bowler’s end. At 54 for 3 in the 11th over, their target seemed many moons away.
South Africa believe through Wolvaardt
Wolvaardt had to now put behind her the run out gaffe, and she did so admirably. Without playing a shot in anger, she kept reeling off boundaries, brought up her half-century off 43 balls with one of the most pleasing cover drives, and brought South Africa to within 59 runs of victory with 30 balls left. In Tryon, she had a batter who could bash the ball. The pair put together 55 in 37 balls to keep South Africa’s hopes alive, before they both fell in successive overs to all but extinguish their hopes.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo