Live Report – India collapse under pressure on big stage
We skipped uni for Beth Mooney,” read a placard at one of Australia’s group games at the T20 World Cup. From a squad that boasts superstars in the likes of Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning, and Alyssa Healy, not often does Mooney, the left-handed opener for Australia, occupy front of mind. That placard, though, remains testament to Mooney’s appearance to the fore of Australia’s batting contingent, not least her stature as the No. 3-ranked batter in women’s T20Is.
Australia’s second-highest T20I run-scorer since 2018, Mooney has been the lynchpin in their batting in their run to the T20 World Cup final, too. Her tally of 181 runs from five games at an average of over 45 is the most in the line-up.
“If I knew I’d try to sell it, I think,” Mooney said about her form, after her crucial 28 in a second-fiddle act to captain Lanning helped secure a five-run victory in the semi-final against South Africa on Thursday. “I’m not sure what it is. I think, it’s a clear mind, being really calm and, for me, batting is a happy place. I don’t really think about anything else, except for what is going on in the game out there, and my mind is pretty clear.”
Champions for the fifth time! And they have looked it from the first ball of this match. A record crowd for women’s cricket, a record crowd for a women’s sporting event in Australia. More than 86,000 people showed up to watch this absolute champion side tonight, and they have decimated their opponents. An 85-run win against the team that had put them in a very precarious position after their first match of the tournament. They wobbled in their second one too, but they’ve picked themselves up and been perfect in the final. Not a chance for India, not once, tonight. They’re huddled up, looking somber. It’s been a perfect campaign until tonight. They were blown away by Alyssa Healy at the start and made mistakes from which they got no time at all to recover from. You don’t get that in a World Cup final, unfortunately. But there are players in this team that will last another generation, and they will have more matches like this. One way or another, they’ve been part of a game-changing event for women’s cricket. A massive night for the game.
Heading into the World Cup, that clarity also shone through in the tri-series final at Melbourne’s Junction Oval last month. Anchoring the hosts’ innings with an unbeaten 71, Mooney helped consign India, the opponents she’s set to front up against in the World Cup final, to an 11-run defeat.
“Hats off to the Indian ladies for making everyone stand up and take notice. In a country where none of the Indian players are even known by almost anyone, we need to support and applaud them for getting to the final. Hard luck today but a big step this year towards being world beaters. “
Emanuel Raj: “The thing I Liked about Australian team(both Men’s and Women’s) is the execution of their plans. It’s one thing doing the homework and it’s another thing to execute it under pressure. Which I think is quality of a Champion Side. It’s the difference between the two team today.”
Dave: “Well done Australia, deserving champions. Schutt for player of the tournament?”
Prior to the tri-series, where she finished with the most runs for Australia, Mooney, who plays for Queensland in the Women’s National Cricket League and the Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL), starred in Heat’s successive title triumphs in the 2018-2019 and 2019-20 seasons.
Much of where Mooney finds herself today, in the middle of a purple patch and on the cusp of winning a second straight T20 World Cup, is down to something of a course-correction that happened three years ago. Twenty-three at the time, she had approached Australia head coach Matthew Mott, expressing her desire to play in the 2017-18 County Championship in the UK. Mott, however, held the mirror up to Mooney, explaining she needed to get fitter, so fatigue didn’t come in the way of her batting through a T20 innings or digging in longer in the 50-over game.
As someone who describes herself as “a bit dogged and obstinate”, Mooney began transforming herself from being a slow runner to being among the top five quickest sprinters in the Australian national squad.
“We know now in the Australian set-up, if you want to stay in the team you’ve got to keep evolving, keep getting better,” Mooney told ESPNcricinfo. “The opportunities are increasing and you also have young kids coming in, so there’s a bit more pressure on us as well.
“One thing I pride myself on is I want to be better than what I was every time I walk out – better as a batter, fielder, player, human – whatever it might be. If you are not trying to be better than your friends and family and your team-mates, then there’s not much point in showing up every day.”
Part of Mooney’s realisation of the need to evolve was also a result of Australia’s back-to-back botched title defences that led to a wide-ranging self-appraisal within the team, coaching staff, and the management.