Cricket: White Ferns come up short in T20 final

The New Zealand women's cricket team stumbled at the last hurdle yet again when losing the Twenty20 world championship final to Australia in the West Indies today.

The White Ferns maintained their bridesmaid role after falling three runs short of Australia's 106 for eight at Bridgetown, Barbados.

They finished on 103 for six, getting close only thanks to a heady knock of 38 not out off 35 balls from Sophie Devine, but they never had their noses in front after a top order collapse.

It was a familiar scenario for the New Zealanders, who last year lost to England in the finals of both the Twenty20 championship and 50-over World Cup.

Their batting flopped today after their bowlers did admirably well to restrict Australia to a very manageable total.

The top order disintegrated as New Zealand slumped to 35 for five after 11 overs and they truly threatened thereafter as fast bowler Ellyse Perry starred with figures of three for 18.

The White Ferns began positively enough, with Suzie Bates hitting a six by carting Rene Farrell over long on but the rot soon set in after skipper Aimee Watkins fell to a smart catch at mid wicket by her opposite Alex Blackwell.

The dangerous Sara McGlashan, fresh from a rollicking 84 off 55 balls in the semifinal win over the West Indies, never settled as she was run out for one after backing up too far and being sent back by Bates.

Bates then mishit aerially to depart for 18 before Amy Sattherthwaite was beaten by the pace of Perry and Rachel Priest skied spinner Shelley Nitschke to Blackwell.

Nicola Browne and Devine were left to pick up the pieces and kept their team in the contest until Browne nicked behind off Perry after scoring 20 off 24 balls and advancing the score to 77 in the 18th over.

New Zealand began the last over requiring 14 to win, but after Liz Perry took a single, Devine could manage just four successive twos off Ellyse Perry, leaving her requiring a six off the final ball. Ellyse Perry delivered a fall, straight delivery which Devine could not get under.

Earlier, the New Zealanders performed outstandingly in the field once Australia won the toss and opted to bat first.

They never got going as seamers Sian Ruck and Browne made early inroads to reduce Australia to 20 for three inside six overs.

The powerful Australian batting lineup never fully recovered once Browne and Ruck combined to knock the top off their innings, left-armer Ruck striking first when she trapped Nitschke leg before wicket for three in the third over.

Brown then picked up wickets in each of her next two overs, enticing an edge behind from Elyse Villani before Blackwell failed to fully get over a short, wide ball which was snapped up by Devine behind point.

Browne was excellent, finishing with figures of two for 11 off her full complement of four overs, but the other bowlers played their part, too, as the Australians were held in check at 51 for five in the 13th over.

Leah Poulton topscored with 20 while Sarah Elliott ended on 19 not out after Lisa Sthalekar smacked 18 off 13 balls towards the end.

Seamer Devine ended up with two for 21 while Ruck, Kate Broadmore and Lucy Doolan each picked up one wicket.

The New Zealanders generally fielded smartly and when they did err they made up for it, as evidenced by McGlashan's run out of Alyssa Healy from deep square leg. McGlashan initially dropped the offered catch before a smart return caught Healy well short of her ground when the Australian tried to steal a second run.

Watkins ended the innings in style, pulling off a stunning one-handed leaping catch at extra cover to dismiss Rene Farrell off the final ball of the innings.

- NZPA

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