They came into the World Cup with perhaps scant expectations of winning games. And now, having won two in two, the Windies women have pulled off some sensational contests. Make no mistake. For so far, their opponents have been two of the most daunting contestants in the women’s game. Just who’d have expected a Sophie Devine-led White Ferns and as seen today, a Heather Knight-led England to be beaten by the Windies?
But that’s how the West Indies play-don’t they? Unpredictability and brilliance, after all, are such an intrinsic feature of their DNA.
One moment they’ll look dull and the other, will likely be that wild cannon that can disrupt anyone.
Thus far, the Windies Women have demonstrated just that.
Though what the Windies women did on March 9, 2022 was nothing shy of sensational. Taylor’s side pulled off a major upset against the defending champions England, a feat possible only at the behest of combined team effort.
In so doing, the Windies women corrected a massive woe; never before prior to their win today had they ever beaten England in any ODI world cup, an uninspiring feat now corrected all thanks to great team spirit.
Wherever England became defiant, the Windies Women tried to relieve those clutches by getting breakthroughs at constant intervals.
In the end, a nail-biting seven-run win was achieved with Connell and Mohammed among the key wicket takers. Though there would have been nerves with the way Ecclestone and Cross were going with the proceedings, bringing a tight situation down to 10 needed off 18 in the end, which is when the Windies bowlers chipped in again.
Earlier in the match, Stafanie Taylor won the toss and elected to bat first. The opening partnership constituted 58 runs in the power play, bettering the previous outing of 16 in their opening match. In the next 10 overs, they could manage only 23 runs.
The start was slow but watchful.
This made the opening batters desperate to break free off. Three wickets, each a top batter fell in the same over of Sophie Ecclestone. The mighty Deandra Dottin’s run out really putting a brake on the scoring, but it wasn’t before Taylor’s first-ball-duck stalled the Windies women scoring.
Ecclestone capitalised on the fall out and triggered a collapse.
Windies were reeling under pressure as they were reduced to 98-3. In a span of another 5-overs Kycia knight also departed while Ecclestone got her third wicket.
This also prompts a big question- is the Windies batting versus spin in an urgent need of a makeover? Are the batters mostly and only comfortable against pace?
Both Mathews and Knight succumbed to mistimed shots leaving Campbelle and Nation to begin again afresh and anew. Not that their efforts were disheartening one bit.
The Windies women were on the verge of an even further collapse when Shemaine Campbelle and Cheadean Nation came to the rescue. They put on a fighting partnership that resisted the incessant attack of spin and pace. Though it came at a slow run rate, the stand resuscitated a pitfall in the batting. Campbelle, severe against anything bowled short and Nation fast between the wickets, rallied. The right-handed keeping batter made a fine fifty along with Chedean’s gritty unbeaten knock of 49.
Together, they put on a stand of 123 runs to push Windies to put a decent total of 225 on board. To a side facing England, never would have a 225 looked promising but it was still something for the bowlers to make a match out of, which is precisely what happened in the end.
England’s opening pair looked unsettled like the previous match. Lauren Winfield was dismissed by a sharp reflex catch of Deandra Dottin in the backward point. Clearly, the catch of the tournament so far.
Tammy Beaumont continued to pace the innings as the wickets continued to fall around her. She anchored the innings until the veteran Anisa Mohammed trapped her in front of wicket when she tried a flick that wasn’t quite there. Her 48 still proving to be a daunting performance against what was a controlled exhibition of Windies bowling.
Though five wickets fell rapidly, the target of 121 in 24 overs was well within reach for England, given that they had two specialist batters still at the crease. Danielle Wyatt and Sophia Dunkley put on a stable partnership of 60 that took England even closer to the target. But the Windies women needed a wicket to break this dangerous stand.
The captain Taylor, who only bowled two overs against South Africa this year, came in and got the wicket of Dunkley, who was well set to take England over to the finish line. Next to fall was the dangerous Wyatt, who also got dismissed by a full length ball that was caught by Chinelle Henry, the agile fielder running backwards to complete a stunner in the mid-off region. Sophie Ecclestone and Kate Cross accelerated the chase and took the game closer to the win.
Ecclestone hit three boundaries off a Dottin over. This wasn’t the magical Dottin with the ball against the White Ferns as seen last week. England still held the upper hand and well placed than the Windies at this stage of the game.
The win could still have belonged to anyone but the partnership of Sophie Ecclestone and Kate Cross was reassuring.
Now with only nine required off the last two overs, you could just sense it that the game was slipping away from Taylor’s girls.
And right then and there came the massive turnaround that none would’ve anticipated.
All that the West Indies needed was an experienced campaigner to get the job done.
On the first delivery of the Anisa Mohammed over, Ecclestone hit the ball which then went crashing towards the stumps. Anisa got hold through her fingers on it, dismissing Kate Cross who got run out as she fell well short of the crease. Anya Shrubsole’s wicket sealed the match for the Windies and Anisa’s magic reigned supreme.
What the Windies have done so far is to have left nothing to chance. Nothing to the imagination. If they’ve dreamt of winning, they’ve gotten under the skin of their opponents and made it crawl.
With two mega wins, each against the White Ferns, such a threat and now, against England, the world is rallying around the West Indies. Are you too?
-with contributions from Dev Tyagi