'Hunted' Australia win Women's T20 World Cup for sixth time
Australia won the Women's T20 World Cup for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments when they beat South Africa by 19 runs in the final at Newlands in Cape Town on Sunday.
"It's a very special effort from this group," said Australian captain Meg Lanning after her players proved superior to a South African team that had the backing of a near-capacity crowd of about 15,000.
Opening batter Beth Mooney was named player of the match after making an unbeaten 74 in an Australian total of 156 for six.
"I walked off thinking we didn't have enough runs but maybe I was a bit hard on myself. It was a really tough wicket," she said.
Mooney said the Australian players were proud of their dominance.
"Other teams around the world are improving. We are being hunted but we want to enjoy it for as long as we can."
The defending champions quickly put the pressure on the South African batters who could score only 22 runs for the loss of opener Tazmin Brits in the six-over power play.
"Our power play with the ball was excellent," said Lanning.
South Africa were never up with the required run rate and were restricted to 137 for six despite opener Laura Wolvaardt hitting 61 off 48 balls.
Captain Sune Luus paid tribute to the Australians.
"You guys have been inspirational to world cricket for many years," she said.
But Luus said the tournament had been a major boost for women's cricket in South Africa, with big crowds supporting the home team even after they had lost their first two games of the tournament.
- 'Proud of ourselves' -
"I think we can be proud of ourselves," she said. "It's very exciting for women's cricket. We have to keep on growing. We set a platform and we can't go backwards."
Luus challenged South African cricket officials and the government to push for girls' cricket in schools and to improve the club and provincial system, "so we can keep knocking on Australia's door."
Australia won all their six matches in the tournament to hammer home their dominance of the format.
"Other teams came hard at us," said Lanning.
But she said her group of players had risen to every challenge.
"We wanted to make sure we stayed calm when the pressure was on."
Off-spinning all-rounder Ash Gardner was named player of the tournament after a series of consistent performances.
She was pushed up the batting order to number three on Sunday and gave the innings impetus by hitting two fours off Nonkululeko Mlaba in the eighth over and two successive sixes off Nadine Klerk in the following over.
Gardner fell to a high catch on the boundary after making 29 off 21 balls and bowled steadily to take one for 20 in her four overs.
South Africa were in a near-hopeless position when Luus was the third batter out, run out for two. At that stage South Africa needed another 103 runs off 56 balls.
Wolvaardt and the hard-hitting Chloe Tryon gave the crowd hope with an attacking fourth wicket partnership of 55 off 37 balls but the match was effectively over when Wolvaardt was leg before wicket to Megan Schutt in the 17th over.
Australia have now won six of the eight T20 World Cups played -- in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2018, 2020 and 2023.
Only England, who won the inaugural tournament in 2009, and West Indies in 2016, have broken the stranglehold.
Australia 156-6 in 20 overs (B. Mooney 74 not out; S. Ismail 2-26, M. Kapp 2-35) v South Africa 137-6 in 20 overs (L. Wolvaardt 61)
Result: Australia won by 19 runs