Danni Wyatt hundred gives England T20 win over Australia to tie series

• Australia 178-2; England 181-6 – England win by four wickets
• Beth Mooney also hits century for Australia but tourists level series

Through the most daring of hands, Danni Wyatt steered England to the least likely of wins, the visitors ending their Ashes campaign by knocking off the highest successful run chase in the history of women’s Twenty20 internationals. In turn, Heather Knight’s side head home having levelled the overall series at 8-8 after winning the last two rubbers.

When England lost three wickets in five overs to begin their response to 178 for two they looked to have given up any realistic chance. The game had a familiar look: the required run rate would rocket as wickets fell. It had all the symptoms of a shocker to never be spoken of again, save for Beth Mooney’s relentless century earlier on.

That almost certainly would have come to pass if not for Australia’s incompetence, dropping Wyatt and Knight four times in total. Awful, inexplicable drops. But batting with the liberty of the reprieved, the pair instead went on to mount an exhilarating and match-winning 139-run partnership in only 75 balls. In the space of an hour, a stinker became a classic.

For Wyatt’s part it was her maiden international hundred, coming only four days after her first half-century for England. It was raised in 56 balls and on 13 occasions the Staffordshire native went through the Australia field, and twice cleared the rope. Footwork and placement defined the knock, which only got better as the chase got deeper. She was fearless in the middle then in shock after play. “It’s a bit surreal,” she said. “I still can’t believe what’s happened. I was just focused on the ball really. I kept telling myself: ‘Focus.’ Then I looked at the board and I was 95. I was, like, ‘Trev [Knight], what’s going on?’”

Knight was perfect in support, getting Wyatt on strike as often as possible before working up the gears herself, the two getting the ask down to a run a ball with four overs to go. The captain’s half-century was enough to also win her the player of the series award. “It was a really special night,” she said. “I knew the girls would fight hard, we just needed someone to go big and Danni did exactly that. I was perfectly happy to play second fiddle to her, and the way she was striking it. Some of the shots, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. I thought they had too many [runs] but there is a hell of a lot of fight in this team and to level at 8-8 makes me really proud.”

It never looked viable when Mooney played the most superlative white-ball innings of the series. The 117 unbeaten runs she tallied in 70 balls were faultless and sit second on the list of highest scores made by a woman in the shortest form. By any measure, she deserved to be on the winning team.

Her 17 boundaries and one six tell one story, but this was no slog. Rather, it was a far more precise exercise from the left-hander. After lacing the first delivery of the night past point, Mooney went on to scoop, sweep and pull every ball directed at her body with impeccable balance.

When driving, she did so both conventionally and inside-out with equal ease and ample footwork. Four boundaries from the final four balls, delivered by Anya Shrubsole, emphasised her mastery.

But somehow, on this night, it would not be enough. If looking to apportion blame, the opener need look no further than Alyssa Healy. The wicketkeeper, who has had a fine series with the bat and gloves, dropped both Wyatt and Knight to the most straightforward skied chances. Megan Schutt and Molly Strano put down catches off Knight that were just as bad.

“The word bittersweet was used and that’s a pretty good description,” the Australia coach, Matthew Mott, said of his side winning the main but giving up the T20s so spectacularly.

“It’s just a shame for Beth, who played the innings of her life and just made such a great statement for the group. We can’t hide from the fact we dropped four catches and that freed them up to go pretty hard, and Danni Wyatt’s innings was absolutely outstanding.”

As for Mooney, she said she wasn’t sure “whether to laugh or cry” after the game.

Fair enough. But what she proved, Wyatt too, is that missing the ODI series was no handbrake on dominating the T20s. With a global tournament on the cards a year from now, both now know they can win games for their country.

Contributor

Adam Collins in Canberra

The GuardianTramp

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