Matthews shines again, but West Indies’ collapse hands Australia series win

SUMMARY: Australia 190-9 from 20 overs (Tahlia McGrath 65, Ellyse Perry 40, Phoebe Litchfield 36; Shamilia Connell 3-25) vs West Indies 143 all out from 19.5 overs (Hayley Matthews 79, Aaliyah Alleyne 26, Shabika Gajnabi 16; Darcie Brown 3-20, Ashleigh Gardner 3-32, Kim Garth 2-24)

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A brilliant display of fast bowling from Darcie Brown helped Australia close out the T20I series against West Indies at Allan Border Field despite another one-woman show from Hayley Matthews who was hobbled on one leg.

Defending a total of 190-9, set up by a stunning 65 off 34 balls from Tahlia McGrath and a reverse-sweeping and switch-hitting masterclass from Phoebe Litchfield, Brown produced a match-winning spell of 3-20 from four overs to swing the game and the series in Australia’s favour as Matthews threatened to rip it away from them.

West Indies’ captain had raced to 79 from 39 balls, despite being severely hampered by a right quad injury, to lead the visitors to 97 without loss after 10.3 overs even with the anchor of her opening partner Shabika Gajnabi who had crawled to 16 off 24 balls, after Kim Garth and Megan Schutt had bowled frugally upfront.

Matthews could barely run and even struggled to hold her shape at the crease. But she still somehow muscled 11 fours and four sixes with a stand-and-delivery strategy that had Australia fearing a rare home series defeat.

But after conceding consecutive boundaries from the first two balls of the 11th over, Brown responded with a clever back-of-the-hand slower ball to deceive Matthews.

She skied it high to cover where Litchfield took the catch and let out a huge exhale, having dropped Matthews in the same spot in the last match to cost Australia the game.

Matthews became the first player in women’s T20I history to score more than 300 runs in a three-match series, scoring 310 for just two dismissals at a ridiculous strike-rate 174.15.

She was named player of the match for the third straight game of the series and for her eighth consecutive match overall.

But it wasn’t enough for West Indies. Her dismissal sparked a calamitous collapse as they lost 5 for 7 in 12 balls. Georgia Wareham picked up Stafanie Taylor as she miscued to mid-on and Gajnabi ran herself out mindlessly to end a torturous 27-ball innings of 16.

Brown then cranked up the gas, rattling Chinelle Henry’s stumps before Shemaine Campbelle chipped a catch to mid-on.

West Indies were bowled out for 143 in the 20th over with Aaliyah Alleyne the only other batter to make double figures outside of the two openers.

Garth picked up two late wickets to finish with 2 for 24 from four overs having put West Indies behind the required rate early on. Ash Gardner claimed 3 for 32 after being put under severe pressure by Matthews.

Earlier, McGrath, Litchfield and Ellyse Perry produced a powerful display with the bat to underpin Australia’s total after they were sent into bat, despite a few wobbles throughout their innings.

McGrath struck the ball with extraordinary power in her 65. She thumped 11 fours and two sixes, skipping down the track to the spinners and backing away to the quicks.

Perry provided good support with 40 off 30 after Australia had slumped to 31 for 2 in the powerplay following the early loss of both openers.

Their partnership had put Australia on track for another 200-plus score before a mini-collapse threatened to derail them. But once again, Litchfield lit up the late overs with a jaw-dropping array of switch-hits and reverse sweeps to find all parts of the off-side rope in a 17-ball 36.

Annabel Sutherland made 19 off 13 to help Australia edge towards 200 but an excellent final over from Shamilia Connell saw them fall 10 runs short. She took two wickets, including Litchfield, and conceded just three runs to finish with 3 for 25 from three overs. (ESPNcricinfo)

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