Australia have been stunned for just their fourth loss on home soil in T20 internationals in over five years after a stunning West Indies chase led by Barbados’ Hayley Matthews.
Matthews walloped one of the all-time captain’s knocks, scoring 132 from just 64 deliveries, the highest ever individual score for the West Indies in the format, to complete the biggest chase in the history of the women’s T20 international game.
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Records tumbled everywhere under lights at North Sydney Oval, with the match also being the first women’s T20I to have a match aggregate of over 400 runs.
The Australians looked set for another dominant victory under lights at the picturesque ground popularly dubbed the Holy Temple, with Ellyse Perry rescuing a shaky start with her 70 off 46 deliveries.
A foundation had been set by the time young gun Phoebe Litchfield had come to the crease, and the prodigy’s powerful hitting was on full display as she raced to the equal-fastest half-century in the history of the format.
Litchfield, still only 20, is the sport’s brightest talent and her appetite for runs is insatiable – seen on the final ball of the innings.
Having moved across her stumps and missed a ramp shot, an expletive caught on the stump microphone was demonstrative of Litchfield’s passion for her craft – although it may land her in hot water in a similar vein to Tasmania’s Matthew Wade.
With the third-highest team total in the nation’s history on the board, the cricket world was prepared for another domineering Australian victory, before West Indian captain Matthews took the sword to Australia’s bowlers.
Tahila McGrath was taken for 15 off her solitary over before being removed from the attack, while speedster Darcie Brown went without return while conceding almost 11 an over.
Georgia Wareham was attacked with over half of her deliveries going for boundaries, and Megan Schutt recovered late in her spell to take the wickets of Gajnabi and Taylor and give the Australians a fighting chance.
Matthews, exploding off her back foot and clearing the front in a manner more reminiscent of a baseball power hitter than a traditional cricketer, blasted 20 fours and five sixes to lead the West Indies alongside Taylor in a 174-run partnership, the third-highest for the second wicket in the history of the format.
It also marked the first 150+ stand for any wicket against Australia.
Matthews was not without luck, however, being dropped twice – once by Schutt in the outfield and once by Litchfield at cover.
Her heroics would earn her a seventh consecutive player of the match award in T20Is, as the West Indies head to Brisbane’s Allan Border Field for the final match of the T20I series 1-1 looking for a historic series victory.
Regardless of the result, the win in Sydney for the Caribbeans marks a changing of the guard of sorts in the women’s game, for so long the preserve of the Anglosphere owing to the earlier onset of professionalism in those countries.
With increasing resources and salaries booming in women’s franchise leagues around the world, including the West Indies’ own Women’s Caribbean Premier League, the gap between Western nations and cricket’s global South will continue to reduce.