West Indies' best yet to come - Aguilleira
Despite beating five-time world champions Australia for the first time in an ODI, and qualifying for their maiden World Cup final, West Indies captain Merissa Aguilleira said her team hadn't produced its best performance yet. And West Indies had just defended 164 to win their last Super Six match in Mumbai, knocking out England and New Zealand.
"Since we have come to this World Cup, we haven't brought forth our A game," Aguilleira said. "The final is definitely the place to bring our A game. Yes, we had a few misfields and there is lot of room for improvement, not just on the field, but batting wise as well."
After choosing to bat, West Indies were dismissed in 47 overs by a disciplined Australian attack. They were 59 for 5 at one stage and could have been out for a lower score had Deandra Dottin not scored 60 at No. 7. Aguilleira said the difference between Dottin and the others was her natural ability to hit the ball hard. "That's a god-given talent and I think she is using it well. She is not using it enough, but she is using it."
Australia lost wickets regularly too, but they also had steady partnerships that kept swinging the match in their favour. However, when three important middle-order batsmen fell in quick succession, Aguilleira said she could sense panic in Australia's players.
"I felt some panic happening in their camp and that's the time we started to attack even more. We realised that as long as we bowl in the right areas, we can get wickets and that's exactly what happened. You really need bowlers to bowl as tight as possible. The bowlers made it easier for me by doing exactly what they are supposed to do."
West Indies had to win this match to qualify for the final, because the gap between their net run rate and that of the other contenders was marginal. "The atmosphere in the dressing room was high because we knew how important this match was, not just for us but for the people of the Carribbean and our fans as well," Aguilleira said. "We have a lot of people supporting us. We knew that we could make it to the final and that's exactly what we did."
Amid all the questions after the match, she admitted with a beaming smile that she was overjoyed. "I'm overwhelmed right now. Words can't express the way I'm feeling right now. We got to thank god for it, we had been through a lot as a team and hope his blessings continue to shine on us."
Aguilleira said West Indies now had a better idea of Australia's game, which would help them prepare for the final. "We understand them much better having seen them and I think they understand us as well. We made mistakes in some areas and those are the things we need to work on. Since we have a few days, we will work on areas such as not giving their batsmen much width because they are strong whenever they get a chance to free their arms."
Australia's captain Jodie Fields gave the credit to the West Indies players. "Their bowling was very disciplined and they put the ball in good areas," she said. "Their spinners took it to our batsmen and that helped them win the game today. They bowled with disciplined, tight lines and fielded very well today. The pitch was a bit slow and also turning a lot, so it was hard to score."
West Indies complemented their bowling with sharp fielding, which resulted in three catches and three run-outs. The run-outs occurred not just because of good fielding, but also because of poor running. "We had to score runs and sometimes you have to take those risks and to West Indies' credit they got a few run-outs. They are great fielders, Deandra Dottin was really good at point today and Daley and others backed each other up."
Australia had been undefeated in the World Cup until now and that's how they wanted the record to be. After losing to West Indies, who they will meet again in the finals, Fields said they have time to prepare and work on their shortcomings.
"I don't think it's ever good to have a loss. We definitely came out today to win the match and wanted to go through the tournament undefeated. We have to go and focus on our training. Since we are going to play them in the final, at least we got a chance to look at their game and hopefully we can bring it back on Sunday."
Vishal Dikshit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo