England came into the World T20 as the best women's team around. They've barely lost a T20 in a year. They have the best batsmen in the world, the best bowling attack, field very well and are lead by an experienced World Cup and World T20 winning captain. They breezed past Australia at Galle only a few days ago, scoring their last 100 runs in approximately 10 overs to win by seven wickets and 11 balls. They're the most professional women's cricket side history. And Australia beat them.
It wasn't that Australia blew them out of the water with an unchaseable total. Australia batted well, but only Jess Cameron ever looked like putting the game beyond England. Australia's problem in this tournament is that their big hitters haven't been there at the right times and that no one made a big score. When Cameron went out for 45 off 34, Australia just didn't have the power or form to get up to 160 and kick England out of the game. The total of 142 was good, but England chased 144 at Galle, and this was a good pitch to bat on.
England started slowly, worked their way in, and then would have expected Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor to score the bulk of the runs without worrying too much about losing wickets. Instead Australia just kept taking wickets. Every time England put on any kind of partnership, Australia would strike, and with England never being up with the required rate, they just put so much pressure on themselves.
England usually look assured and confident, but they spent their innings looking anxious. Jodie Fields said that England hadn't changed her game plan from Galle, so what changed was that the English players weren't playing in a non-televised event in front of seven people; they were playing a globally televised final in front of a large crowd. The pressure of that, combined with good swing from the Australian pace bowlers and some turn from their spinners seemed to crumble this formally invincible side.
Taylor's job is to bat deep into the innings, but with the run rate slipping away from them, and suspicious clouds forming overhead, Taylor ran at Ellyse Perry with intent. At Galle such a shot would have probably gone for four but at the Premadasa it was edged behind and suddenly England had lost their captain and best batsmen with 83 runs still needed.
It was never going to be easy. The run rate continued to get on top of them, as the Australian bowlers seemed to pick up wickets for fun. It looked like Australia was not just going to beat the best team in the world, but annihilate them.
Then a cameo from Jenny Gunn changed it all, and the Australians who had handled the pressure of the final with ease, suddenly looked like the side who would buckle. Gunn only made 19, but it was fast and furious, and she left England with a sniff.
In the last over England needed 16 runs with no top order players left. Australia gave the ball to Erin Osborne for her offspin. It was perhaps the worst over all day. Osborne delivered a head high full toss, a simple run out chance was missed, a catch was dropped and Australia looked like they were about to lose a match that had been beyond losing for almost an hour.
Somehow Australia had let the match get to the last ball, with England needing an unlikely, but possible six to win. Osborne bowled her second full toss of the over, this time a legal delivery, and Hazell could only mistime it out towards midwicket.
It was messy, pressurised finals cricket. And Australia had somehow managed to hold on, to the trophy if not always the ball, as the mighty England had to watch Australia pick up back to back titles.
Osborne probably didn't dream of delivering a full toss in her fantasy of bowling Australia to victory, but beating England in a final for your country is what every one of these Australians would have wanted. Underdogs and reigning champions, it's got a nice ring to it.