The West Indies have pulled off the highest successful run chase in women’s T20I history, with a record-breaking knock from captain Hayley Matthews humbling Australia’s frazzled bowling attack at North Sydney Oval on Monday evening.
Matthews clobbered 132 (64), including 20 boundaries and five sixes, as the West Indies clinched a remarkable seven-wicket win against the world’s No. 1 team, their first victory against the Australians in over seven years.
The 25-year-old, who scored an unbeaten 99 in the series opener on Sunday, combined with West Indies veteran Stafanie Taylor for a record-breaking 174-run partnership for the second wicket, while the Australians were left to rue a couple of dropped chances throughout the run chase.
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Earlier, Australian young gun Phoebe Litchfield equalled the fastest half-century in women’s T20I history, reaching the minor milestone in just 18 deliveries as Australia posted 6-212, its highest score against the West Indies in the format.
The 20-year-old, playing just her fourth T20I, smacked three boundaries and five sixes in a career-best performance, while Ellyse Perry top-scored for the Australians with 70 (46), her highest score in the format on home soil.
The unexpected result sets up a series decider at Brisbane’s Allan Border Field on Thursday.
Matthews won the toss and elected to bowl first, a decision that paid dividends when rival skipper Alyssa Healy departed for a golden duck, her first at international level since January 2016.
Healy guided the first delivery from seamer Chinelle Henry towards point, where Shemaine Campbelle held onto a superb one-handed catch above her head.
The following over, world No. 1 ranked batter Tahlia McGrath was bowled through the gate by off-spinner Matthews, departing for 4 (7) to leave Australia in a spot of bother at 2-7 in the second over.
Later in the Powerplay, Henry lunged for a one-handed chance at mid-off, slapping the turf in frustration after giving Perry an extra life on 14. The Australian stalwart rubbed salt into the wounds by slapping the following delivery down the ground for six, with the ball thudding into the sightscreen.
Perry and opener Beth Mooney combined for a 70-run partnership for the third wicket before the left-hander departed on the last ball before drinks, nailing a sweep shot against Matthews but picking out square leg for 29 (22).
Ash Gardner fell for 2 (6) shortly after, caught at deep mid-wicket by Aaliyah Alleyne after miscuing a pull shot against Shamilia Connell in the 12th over.
Perry reached her half-century in 34 deliveries before Henry put down yet another chance, denying Alleyne a wicket and handing the right-hander another life on 68. However, Perry couldn’t make the most of the reprieve, scooping a slower ball from Connoll towards short fine leg in the 15th over.
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At the other end, Litchfield plundered back-to-back sixes against Henry before all-rounder Anabell Sutherland chipped lofted cover drive towards Shabika Gajnabi at long-off, giving Matthews her third scalp.
However, Litchfield and Georgia Wareham combined for an unbeaten 66-run partnership at the death to set the West Indies a record target of 213.
Wareham’s unbeaten 32 (13), which included six boundaries, was her best batting performance in T20Is, while Litchfield bettered the previous fastest half-century by an Australian in women’s T20Is by three deliveries.
The West Indies conceded 88 runs in the final five overs, a record where data is available, as Australia posted its fourth-highest team total in the format.
Megan Schutt snared an early breakthrough for the Australians, with West Indies opener Shabika Gajnabi awkwardly spooning a catch towards Jess Jonassen at short third man for 1 (5).
However, the South Australian went from hero to zero after spilling a low chance at deep cover off Sutherland’s bowling, giving Matthews an early reprieve on 30.
It proved a costly error, with the West Indies proceeding to make a mockery of Australia’s world-class bowling attack, repeatedly thumping drivers through cover and point with ease.
Matthews brought up a fifty, her second of the long weekend, in just 25 deliveries before Gardner put down a tough return chance against Taylor in the 11th over.
Things went from bad to worse for the Australians, with Litchfield botching a regulation chance at cover in the 14th over, gifting Matthews yet another life on 87.
Not long after, Taylor reached her half-century with a trio of boundaries against Sutherland, with the duo combining for the West Indies’ highest partnership in women’s T20Is.
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Matthews passed triple figures in 53 deliveries with an elegant square drive against Schutt, removing her helmet and saluting the North Sydney Oval spectators. However, the Australian quick bounced back later in the same over, knocking over Taylor for 59 (41) with an inswinger that clipped leg stump.
The West Indies needed 25 runs from the final two overs, but Matthews smacked four consecutive boundaries against Jonassen to put the tourists within touching distance of a stunning victory.
However, Jonassen returned serve on her fifth delivery, bowling Matthews with a well-executed yorker and pumping her fists in relief.
Matthews walked off to a standing ovation, having scored the highest score for the West Indies and against Australia in women’s T20Is.
Eight runs were required from the final over, to be delivered by Gardner. The Australians shot themselves in the foot with a couple of sloppy misfields, with the West Indies chasing the record target with one ball to spare.
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