Dottin Bookends Opening Thriller at Bay Oval
Deandra Dottin spanked the first ball of the World Cup, delivered by Lea Tahuhu, over the top of the fielders to the cover boundary. At over 49.5 on the New Zealand innings, she ran out Fran Jonas to help West Indies win the opening match by three runs. In between those two balls, the most exciting start to the 2022 World Cup you could ask for.
The host nation’s skipper, Sophie Devine, won the toss and sent the West Indies in. Dottin was in no mood for pleasantries, but it was a short stay of just seven deliveries, with just three boundaries, but it did provide some fireworks for the opening.
At other end, more circumspect but no less effective, Hayley Matthews who delighted with an array of sublime back foot cover drives punctuated by a wonderful straight drive – perhaps the shot of the match – as she marched in style to record herself a World Cup century. The innings didn’t surprise for this batter has shown great maturity over the last year, turning into West Indies’ most reliable.
Matthews had very good support along the way with Stafanie Taylor (30), Shemaine Campbelle (20) and Chedean Nation (36). Nation’s knock was brilliant in the context of the innings as she guided the team to the finish.
The Kiwi bowlers, though expensive, kept taking wickets to such an effect that it did apply a handbrake to an innings that looked headed for 300 at one stage and lost momentum once Matthews departed for 119, finishing with 259/9 after fifty overs. It felt that they were about 25 runs short of where they needed to be.
Tahuhu collected the best figures of 3-57, but it was Jess Kerr (2-43) who impressed the most and indeed it was her who ultimately dismissed Matthews.
Suzie Bates and Devine opened up for the home team and indeed had been in excellent form coming into the tournament. No boundary from the first ball ala Dottin, but Shamilia Connell bowled the first delivery so wide it was heading for second slip. Not only that, it was a front foot no ball. A free hit now as well, but then another wide. And then another, but Bates had moved so far outside off stump it negated the wide call. It was an eventful start, about to become more so.
Energetic and chirpy in the field, the West Indies belied the lethargy of the first over and Chinelle Henry followed up with a maiden. In the fourth over, Devine clubbed the ball to cow corner for a boundary, then disaster for the White Ferns when she drove the next ball back to the bowler who deflected it onto the stumps. Bates runout at the non-striker’s end.
Amelia Kerr (13), so suited to the number three position was there for only a brief stay. Devine wasn’t going anywhere. There were runs on this track and she was going to cash in. She bullied her way to a century. Not as elegant as Matthews but as they say, it’s not how, it’s how many. It was vintage Devine, but as she lost partners along the way, the task continued to become more difficult.
When Henry caught and bowled Devine in the 45th over the run rate was already heading towards 8 per over. However Katey Martin (44) and Jess Kerr (25), the latter a very underrated batter, they took the game to the 50th over with only 6 runs required to win.
Who would bowl? Dottin marched up to Taylor and suggested she might have a go, despite having not bowled in international cricket for a very long time. Why not? Jess Kerr took a single off Dottin’s first delivery. Five balls and five runs to win.
A full delivery to Martin smacks her on the pad. “Howzat?!” Umpire agrees, but Martin reviews, of course, given the situation, but her fate is sealed, LBW Dottin for an excellent 44. Four balls left, still five to win.
Hannah Rowe can bat and Dottin gave her a full toss which she drove to mid-on, getting the settled batter, Jess Kerr back on strike. Three balls left and a boundary would do it. Kerr tries to hit the next delivery over mid off who is inside the circle but misjudges and is caught by Henry. The West Indies are going berserk and why not? Who scripted this?
Two balls remain, still needing four to win, with one wicket in hand. Fortunately Rowe is facing and the number eleven Fran Jonas at the other end. Rowe has it in her to do this but misses the next ball, going through to the keeper. Jonas has decided to run a bye and is sent back but it is too late. Campbelle has thrown the ball to Dottin who finishes the job. Windies home by 3 runs as Dottin takes 2-2 in the chaotic last over.
Hayley Matthews is deserving Player of the Match and the World Cup is well and truly underway.
West Indies 259/9 (Hayley Matthews 119, Chedean Nation 36, Stafanie Taylor 30, Lea Tahuhu 3-57, Jess Kerr 2-43) 50 overs
New Zealand 256 (Sophie Devine 108, Katey Martin 44, Deandra Dottin 2-2, Hayley Matthews 2-41, Anisa Mohammed 2-60) 49.5 overs
Player of the Match: Hayley Matthews