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West Indies women win maiden World Twenty20 cricket title

The West Indian women's cricket team has beaten Australia by eight wickets to win a historic World Twenty20 victory. The game was only decided in the last over.

The West Indies side, facing what seemed a good total from Australia, gathered momentum throughout their innings to claim a convincing win on Sunday.

Australia, looking for a fourth straight title, won the toss and opted to bat at the Eden Garden grounds in Kolkata.

After opener Alyssa Healy popped up an easy catch off a full toss to 18-year-old spinner Hayley Matthews, who scooped up the ball without any problem, it was up to captain Meg Lanning, coming in at first drop, and Elyse Villani to steady the innings.

Villani proceeded to do so with some style, executing several fine sweeps, pulls and cuts to the boundary past the hapless fielders, off some loose bowling that possibly betrayed nerves on the part of the West Indies side, playing in its first final. Lanning increasingly joined the fray, though she initially had more problems with good placement than her partner.

Off-spinner Anisa Mohammed, with her characteristic skip at the start of her run-up , managed to curb the free scoring by the Australians slightly with a spell of more accurate bowling. But Villani reached her well-deserved half century in the 11th over from just 34 balls.

But she fell just two runs later to the bowling of Deandra Dottin, with skipper Stafanie Taylor doing the catching at cover. Villani's score include nine fours, with her 52 coming off just 37 balls.

Captain's innings

Lanning, however, remained as a firm bedrock for the Australian innings, displaying an exemplary captain's steadiness. She was joined at the crease by Ellyse Perry, and together they saw Australia reach 100 in the 14th over, with Lanning hitting three boundaries in a row off Dottin's bowling.

Lanning achieved her 50 runs in the 16th over with a flaying shot that was otherwise not at all typical of her usual elegance. But Perry was the one to succeed in another landmark: the first six of the game, which soared effortlessly over the long-on boundary rope off the bowling of right-arm spinner Shaquana Quintyne.

Lanning lost her wicket just shortly after this, LBW to Mohammed, also for 52, while attempting one of her trademark sweeps. She counted eight fours among her total, her second successive half century.

Perry unleashed a second six down the ground off Taylor, with Alex Blackwell at the other end contributing tactical singles. But her dashing performance came to an end two balls before the conclusion of the Australian innings, when she was trapped LBW by Dottin for 28 while moving across to try for another lofted shot.

Erin Osborne was immediately run out while trying a suicidal single that was, however, justified by the game situation. Blackwell then hit a single, successfully this time, to quietly conclude the innings and bring Australia to a score of 145-5 - a good total, but not completely unassailable for a team high on batting strength like the West Indies, with a required run rate of 7.45 per over.

Gradual acceleration

Hayley Mathews and Stafanie Taylor opened the innings for the West Indies, with left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen kicking off the bowling for Australia, followed by the pace of Ellyse Perry in the second over. Both bowlers managed to restrict the batters to singles, with the West Indies seeming constrained.

The first boundary came only in the third over from Taylor off Meg Schutt. But the fourth over already saw two more boundaries and then a six, this time from Matthews off the bowling of Rene Farrell as the batting side notched up a gear.

Lanning and Taylor holding trophy

Both captains played superb innings

Matthews almost gave up her wicket the very next over, with a shot just failing to reach the outstretched hands of a diving Beth Mooney at mid-off. But this did not damage her confidence and she lofted Perry straight down the ground for another maximum of 82 meters just to make sure the pace bowler got her share of the punishment.

A deflected blow to the helmet didn't stop Taylor from joining the fun in the sixth over with a couple of fours, with 16 coming from the six balls as the West Indies pushed vigorously on the accelerator, reaching the 50 in the seventh over with a cheeky single. The 50 partnership was reached off just 40 balls.

Jonassen achieved a respite from the West Indies onslaught with only two singles coming from the 11th over. Taylor then survived a run-out scare in the 12th over, with the third umpire declaring she had made her ground despite a direct hit to the stumps.

A third six in the 13th over by Mathews took her within easy reach of the 50, with both batters taking singles at every opportunity and boundaries when they were offered. And she reached the landmark with a stylish off-side four off the very next ball.

The next landmark was not long in coming, with the West Indies reaching 100 in the 14th over, Mathews sending the ball to the square leg boundary.

Near miss

Perry was lucky to avoid injury from, but unlucky to have dropped, a blistering shot back down the ground by Taylor in the 14th over. Australia almost had its revenge with a near stumping of Taylor by a lightning-quick Alyssa Healy in the 15th, but it did not deter the West Indies from scoring freely off nearly every ball at this stage

Taylor reached her 50 off 48 balls in the 16th over, but the West Indies celebration was short, with Matthews being caught off the bowling of Kristen Beam by Blackwell for 66 just three balls later - a remarkable innings for the 18-year-old right-hander, for which she required just 45 balls.

With the advent of big-hitter Dottin at the crease, things were looking decidely dangerous for Australia. And she lived up to her reputation, slamming two fours in the 19th over to bring the Windies close to victory.

Excitement to the finish

But the excitement didn't stop there, with Taylor out caught Jonassen from the bowling of Farrell for a fine 59 with only five runs needed for victory.

Perry was handed the ball for the final over, with just three runs needed by the West Indies to clinch the historic victory.

And clinch it they did, but not without a scramble: Cooper went for a non-existent single, but the fielder missed the stumps and the overthrow gave the Windies a well-deserved victory with just three balls remaining.