ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2016 Women's bowling winner: lucky number three

Multiple-stopover flights could not faze Leigh Kasperek as she downed Australia yet again

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
Leigh Kasperek (holding the trophy) poses for a selfie with her team-mates, Australia v New Zealand, Women's World T20 2016, Group A, Nagpur, March 21, 2016

Kasperek (holding the Player-of-the-Match trophy) celebrates the win with her team-mates  •  IDI/Getty Images

Originally from Scotland, Kasperek became eligible to play for New Zealand in 2015. She first tried her hand at offspin in club cricket only because there would be less competition for spots. Little did she know then that one day she would triumph against a team from the country that helped groom her skills: she met New Zealand captain Suzie Bates while playing club cricket in Perth and moved across the ditch on her suggestion.
On a typically slow Nagpur track, where Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi had wrecked India in the men's competition a few days before, Kasperek rattled Australia with flight, dip and drift to take three wickets in a low-scoring clash. Her spell helped New Zealand to their second successive win in the tournament, a little over 24 hours after they arrived at the venue following a nightmare travel scenario that involved flying from Chandigarh to Nagpur via Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.

Key moment

On a surface where batsmen had to curb their natural instincts, Australia came out looking to attack. That resulted in a double-strike for Kasperek, as openers Ellyse Villani and Alyssa Healy holed out to mid-on off successive balls. In her next over, Kasperek drew the No. 3, Erin Osborne, forward. The ball drifted in and skidded through to take the edge to the wicketkeeper. At the end of four overs Australia were 4 for 4. They eventually recovered to post 103, but it didn't prove to be enough, even on a surface where there was significant help for the slower bowlers. New Zealand cruised home with 22 balls to spare.

The numbers

3 The number of three-fors Kasperek has taken against Australia in as many matches.

What they said

"Every now and then, you need a shock to the system. Kasperek's spell certainly jolted us. It was a good wake-up call."
- Alex Blackwell
"She is a gutsy girl who has shown a lot of heart in getting here. It was very courageous to flight the ball to some of the biggest hitters in the women's game. You don't often see that."
- Suzie Bates

The closest contenders

Megan Schutt, 2 for 15 vs England, Women's World T20 semi-final, Delhi
Schutt's tight spell triggered a panic among England's batsmen, who were well set at one point, needing only 45 off 42 balls.
Deandra Dottin, 3 for 16 vs India, Women's World T20, Mohali
After making sure West Indies recovered from a collapse to post 114, Dottin helped defend the total and knock India out of their own party.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo