Aussies crush WI Women despite Matthews' brilliance
Hayley Matthews (left) of West Indies Women hits a six as Australia's captain and wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy looks on during the women's Twenty20 International cricket match at North Sydney Oval in Sydney on Sunday. (Photo: AFP)

SYDNEY, Australia (CMC) — Captain Hayley Matthews agonisingly missed out on a hundred as West Indies Women were swept aside by eight wickets in the opening Twenty20 International against Australia Women here Sunday.

The right-hander was left stranded on 99, a Player-of-the-Match knock that propelled the visitors to 147 for three from their 20 overs after they were sent in at North Sydney Oval.

Tahlia McGrath (60 not out) and Captain Alyssa Healy (56) then carved out half-centuries as Australia women overhauled their target in a canter, to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

It was Matthews who shone brightly nevertheless, despite her side's defeat. The 25-year-old opener, who assumed the captaincy last year, struck a dozen fours and four sixes to post the highest-ever score by a West Indian woman against the Aussies.

She put on 68 for the second wicket with former Captain Stafanie Taylor (10) and 56 for the third wicket with Vice-Captain Shemaine Campbelle (19).

Matthews dominated on both sides of the wicket in a superb innings which saw her reach her second half-century against Australia off 36 balls in the tenth over.

However, with her second T20 International hundred in sight, she lifted off-spinner Ashleigh Gardner to long on off the fourth ball of the final over and opted for the single, only to watch as Campbelle was stumped off the very next delivery.

"[It was a] magnificent innings, she really deserved the hundred," said newly appointed head coach, Australian Shane Deitz.

"It's one of the best innings I've seen for a long time. She's been brilliant around the group as a leader, batter, and bowler."

In reply, Australia Women made light work of the run chase, McGrath anchoring the innings in a robust 32-ball knock which included eight fours and three sixes.

When Beth Mooney (11) picked out Taylor at mid off in the third over off seamer Chinelle Henry with the score on 22, McGrath arrived to first post 85 for the second wicket with Healy before adding a further 42 in an unbroken third-wicket partnership with Gardner (13 not out).

Healy, featuring in her 250th international, counted seven fours and three sixes off 23 deliveries. Dropped on 27 in the seventh over – one of three missed chances for West Indies Women – she eventually departed in the tenth over, holing out to long-off off Matthews.

"I think we were a bit short as the wicket started playing better in the second half," Deitz said.

"It was a pretty good total and maybe if we had taken our chances while fielding, things could have been different."

The second T20 International is set for Monday at the same venue.

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