Women’s T20 World Cup: Matthews magic steers West Indies to thrilling win over Ireland

 A majestic captain’s innings by Hayley Matthews guided the West Indies to a nerve-jangling six-wicket win against Ireland in a Group B encounter of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup here.

The Windies skipper struck a decisive 66 not out and, assisted by Chinelle Henry’s critical contribution, helped haul her side to inflict a difficult defeat on the Irish under the Friday night lights.

Orla Prendergast’s impressive 61 had fired Ireland to a competitive total of 137 for nine as Shamilia Connell starred with the ball for the Windies at Newlands Cricket Ground.

But Matthews and Henry (34) delivered a second innings masterclass to patiently chase down the target and help the West Indies, without Stafanie Taylor owing to a back injury, bounce back from defeats against India and England with just a single ball remaining in Group B.

Laura Delany won the toss and elected to bat — but her side suffered an almost immediate blow when Amy Hunter was dismissed in the second over. Trishan Holder held a simple catch after the Irish opener had miscued and top-edged a Connell delivery.

But Prendergast and Gaby Lewis set about building the foundations for recovery, putting on 90 for the second wicket before Prendergast went for a swashbuckling 61 — off just 47 balls — in the 13th over. And the West Indies then struck twice in quick succession as Lewis (38) and Louise Little, who was unable to trouble the scorers, were removed in the space of three Karishma Ramharack deliveries.

Delany and Arlene Kelly then went in similarly speedy fashion as Afy Fletcher’s leg breaks helped derail the end of the Irish innings. Eimear Richardson was caught and bowled by Matthews before Leah Paul and wicketkeeper Mary Waldron were removed from the final two balls of the innings.

That left the Windies with a total of 138 to win as openers Matthews and Rashada Williams responded with a steady start throughout the opening overs.

But Ireland grabbed the breakthrough from the penultimate ball of the powerplay when wicketkeeper Williams was runout after a sudden mix-up with her captain. Incoming batter Campbelle survived a review shortly after but was soon dismissed by Delany when the Irish skipper’s crafty medium pacers trapped her in front for just eight.

Matthews and Henry continued to chip away at the total, however, teeing up a tantalising final five overs with a composed third-wicket partnership.

Kelly dropped Henry at mid-off during an economical-looking 16th over before the Windies No.4 made her pay with a much-needed boundary off the final delivery. Henry looked in the mood to finish the job as quickly as possible but she was soon dismissed by Paul as Ireland, who spilt several chances throughout a frenetic second innings, finally held on to a catch.

That propelled Shabika Gajnabi into the heat of the Cape Town cauldron, who played an important brief cameo before being run out after another piece of confusion with Matthews. But the Windies skipper held her nerve to clatter Delany over the covers for four and fire her side to victory.

Brief scores:

Ireland 137/9 in 20 overs (Orla Prendergast 61, Gaby Lewis 38; Shamilia Connell 3-24, Karishma Ramharack 2-18) lost to West Indies 140/4 in 19.5 overs (Hayley Matthews 66 not out, Chinelle Henry 34; Leah Paul 1-26, Laura Delany 1-30) by six wickets.

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