Australia’s Dominance in T20 World Cup: Mooney’s Heroics Lead to Sixth Title

Australia emerged victorious against South Africa, securing their sixth title in a high-pressure match of 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Final. 

Beth Mooney’s unbeaten 74* played a pivotal role in Australia’s success, while Laura Wolvaardt’s valiant effort for South Africa added to the intensity of the game.

Australia’s Dominance in T20 World Cup: Mooney’s Heroics Lead to Sixth Title

South Africa’s 137 for 6 (Wolvaardt 61, Tryon 25, Gardner 1-20) was defeated by Australia’s 156 for 6 (Mooney 74*, Ismail 2-26, Kapp 2-35) by a margin of 19 runs.

In all honesty, this was a thrilling match of cricket worthy of a major championship. Under tremendous pressure, Australia—who had won seven straight finals and was more experienced and accustomed to handling big-match temperament—came through to win their sixth and third T20 World Cup titles.

It couldn’t have come at a larger venue if anyone wanted more proof that this is the greatest women’s cricket squad on the planet. Australia made 156 appear like 180 before their bowlers held their own in the face of Laura Wolvaardt’s late charge that threatened to end the match.

South Africa required 59 off 30 balls, and Wolvaardt produced some of the most visually stunning strokes before a raucous Newlands crowd. She then swiped across the line to a full delivery from Megan Schutt, much to their anguish, and was trapped lbw. Hearts fell in South Africa, a sobbing Wolvaardt walked slowly away, and raucous cheering gave way to startled stillness.

Australia delivered what they believed in.

It was a matter of being so close, yet so far, for South Africa. Even still, Sune Luus and company had accomplished something that no other senior team from South Africa, male or female, had done: they had participated in a world final. This was the epitome of bittersweetness.

Healy Departs Early

After four overs, it appeared like a traditional arm wrestle, with neither team winning by much. Alyssa Healy struck a boundary down the ground in the fifth over, setting off a chain reaction of drama that would not end for the remainder of the game. Marizanne Kapp then finished the over with a thunderous blow to the wicket.

Healy’s attempted cut to cover after a spongy bounce gave rise to that wicket signaled that hit-the-deck deliveries would be more difficult to hit than fuller deliveries. After that, Shabnim Ismail struck a maiden to end the opening six overs, giving Australia their slowest powerplay of the competition at 36 for 1.

Ashleigh Gardner Steps Up

Ashleigh Gardner, who was sent in ahead of Meg Lanning, mounted a formidable counterattack to relieve any pressure Australia may have been under. Left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba scored two consecutive fours, while Nadine de Klerk responded with two consecutive sixes. These shots were made possible by Mlaba’s excellent footwork and her strong striking base, which enabled her to get underneath deliveries of the right length.

South Africa was once again under pressure following the incident. In the midst of Australia’s ascendancy, Chloe Tryon tricked Gardner during flight, allowing her to be caught at long-off for a devastating 21-ball 29. Australia maintained their lead with 82 for 2 in the twelfth over.

Mooney Bats Through

It was not long before Beth Mooney adjusted her strategy. She couldn’t just savagely belt the ball on this surface. The slowness of this deck made it difficult to manufacture shots; both semi-finals were played with it. However, she subtly assumed the position of an accumulator, letting the others lead without permitting dot-ball pressure to build up.

Mooney was a master at manipulating the fields as her innings went on. Set up for a scoop at short fine leg, Mooney reverse-scooped over an empty short third to pick vital boundaries and keep Australia from losing momentum.

Also Read: Australia W Clinch 7th World Cup Title With Healy’s 170

Australia’s Dominance in T20 World Cup: Mooney’s Heroics Lead to Sixth Title

Lanning, Ellyse Perry, and Grace Harris thrived on this assurance since they knew Mooney would play their shots as insurance. Australia had established a daunting total, even though Ismail came back to take two wickets in the last over and give up just two off her final four deliveries. In the global tournament final, Mooney scored her second consecutive half-century with an undefeated 53-ball 74.

South Africa Starts Slowly

Understandably, South Africa needed a strong powerplay to ease some of their jitters that had been present throughout the whole game. They staggered to 22 due to Tazmin Brits’s failure in the powerplay, and they let stage fear gradually consume them. It was also an odd passage. During their LBW reprieve, South Africa produced mishits, tight bowling, and unusual misfielding. The heat was on as the asking rate surged over 10.

In the first six overs, boundaries had been few, but Wolvaardt’s first two were beautiful. Both Darcie Brown’s ground ball strike and her skip down the pitch while moving leg side of the ball to hammer an inside-out six off Jess Jonassen were on-drives out of the top drawer.

Just as it looked like South Africa could be gathering some momentum again, they lost Luus to a run-out and Kapp to a slog, leaving Wolvaardt and her both almost stranded at the bowler’s end. Their eleventh over target of 54 for 3 felt a long way off.

South Africa Kept faith in Wolvaardt

Now, Wolvaardt needed to move past the run-out mishap, and she succeeded magnificently in doing so. She continued to hit boundaries without taking a shot in anger, reached her half-century off 43 balls with one of the most beautiful cover drives, and, with 30 balls remaining, got South Africa within 59 runs of victory. She had a batter in Tryon who could really bash the ball. Before they both fell in consecutive overs to all but end South Africa’s aspirations, the duo put up 55 in 37 balls to keep the hopes alive.

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