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Australia wins 5th Women's T20 Cricket World Cup title

AP

Defending champion Australia claimed its fifth Women’s Twenty20 Cricket World Cup title after thrashing India by 85 runs in Sunday’s final at Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The International Cricket Council had been hoping to set a world record for the biggest attendance at a women’s sporting event, on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The crowd figure of 86,174 fell short of the 90,185 fans who attended the world cup soccer women’s final between the United States and China in Pasadena, California, in 1999.

But the fans still managed to help create a national record on an historic occasion in Melbourne as women’s cricket took another leap forward, thanks mainly to the breathtaking batting of Alyssa Healy. The opener belted 75 off 39 balls including a record half-century off just 30 deliveries.

The fans rejoiced as Healy struck seven fours and five sixes, following a pre-game show headed by global superstar Katy Perry.

Perry performed on a purple stage, backed by 14 dancing cricket bats and hundreds of schoolgirls holding “GRL PWR” signs. Perry captured the mood of the occasion, singing her hit “Roar”.

Healy and Beth Mooney (78 not out from 54 deliveries) shared an opening stand of 115 in Australia’s total of 184-4, a record for a women’s T20 final.

In reply, India suffered at the hands of Australia’s sharp fielding, losing four early wickets for 30 in a total of 99 in 19.1 overs.

Earlier, Healy had been dropped on nine at cover. Healy made India pay by setting a record for the fastest 50 in an ICC final.

Mooney and Healy posted their century partnership in the 11th over, as Healy clubbed three sixes in consecutive deliveries in a 23-run over from seamer Shikha Pandey.

Healy fell for 75 in the following over, after holing out to long-on from the bowling of spinner Radha Yadav.

The crowd included Healy’s husband, 2015 World Cup-winning pace bowler Mitchell Starc, who skipped the last match of Australia’s one-day series in South Africa so he could attend Sunday’s final.

Spinner Deepti Sharma removed Australia’s captain Meg Lanning (16) and Ash Gardner (2) in the 17th over. Rachael Haynes also departed cheaply in the 19th over, in leg-spinner Poonam Yadav’s only success of the innings (1-30).

Mooney remained unbeaten to guide Australia to 184-4. Mooney was also dropped before she reached double figures, offering a return catch to Rajeshwari Gayakwad on eight.

In contrast, Australia took its early chances, as 16-year-old Shafali Verma fell to a sharp chance by wicketkeeper Healy in the opening over.

Jemima Rodrigues (0) and Smriti Mandhana (11) also departed cheaply, and Taniya Bhatia retired hurt on two with concussion after a blow to the neck following an attempted sweep.

Spinner Jess Jonassen made a huge breakthrough to claim her second wicket as India’s skipper Harmanpreet Kaur was caught at deep square-leg for seven at 30-4.

Jonassen’s acrobatic catch to dismiss Veda Krishnamurthy (19) left India in tatters at 58-5.

Seamer Megan Schutt led Australia’s bowling with superb figures of 4-18.

India’s captain Kaur, on her 31st birthday, said her side’s poor catching display had been “unfortunate”. Kaur added she hoped India’s performances in the tournament would boost women’s cricket in India.

Australia’s skipper Lanning said Australia had succeeded despite the heavy weight of expectation on the home side.

“There was a lot of expectation on us,” Lanning said. “It was tough, definitely, especially after we lost that first game.”

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