Photo Credit: ICC
The group stage of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 will go down as one of the most closely fought ever with multiple nail-biting finishes going down to the wire in New Zealand.
There were shocks, surprises, and no shortage of highlights but it was Australia, South Africa, England and the West Indies who made it through to the semi-finals.
Here, we look at the best individual performances from the league stage ahead of the knockouts.
West Indies – Hayley Matthews 119 and 2/41 v New Zealand
Some tournaments take a while to get going but this year’s World Cup burst into life in the very first game, thanks in no small part to the West Indies’ Hayley Matthews.
Few had earmarked Courtney Walsh’s side as ones to watch in Aotearoa but Matthews’s pyrotechnics against the White Ferns will live long in the memory.
Having been promoted to open from her usual role in the middle order, Matthews blasted 16 fours and one six in an incredible knock of 119 from 128 balls that lifted the Windies to 259 for nine.
If that was not enough, the off-spinner picked up where she left off with the ball, recording figures of two for 41, snaring the important wickets of Amelia Kerr and Brooke Halliday in the three-run win.
South Africa – Marizanne Kapp 32 and 5/45 v England
The Proteas went four from four early on in the group stage and Marizanne Kapp’s all-round displays helped fire them into the semi-finals.
Such is her talent that Kapp was annoyed she got out with 10 still required for South Africa to beat England but her 32 played a large hand in helping them over the line with three wickets and four balls to spare.
But Kapp had been even more outstanding with the ball as she ripped through both the top and bottom of the defending champions’ batting line-up, the seamer taking five for 45 to restrict England to a manageable 235 for nine for her first international five-wicket haul and the best figures of the group stage.
Arguably even more crucially, it was Kapp who hurled the ball in to run out Amy Jones on 53 at a vital stage in proceedings.
England – Charlie Dean 4/23 v India
A win against India kept England’s hopes of progressing alive after opening with three straight defeats, and it was young spinner Charlie Dean who got their campaign going with a career-best four for 23 in just her second World Cup game.
Dean’s accurate off-breaks contributed to India being bowled out for 134, their lowest total at a World Cup since the 2005 final, as England went on to win by four wickets.
At just 21, Dean, aided by drift and bowling an attacking line, claimed two wickets in four balls after entering the fray in the 17th over.
She then removed Pooja Vastrakar before delivering the final blow by bowling Meghna Singh to round off what was a Player of the Match performance.
Pakistan – Nida Dar 4/10 v West Indies
Pakistan vice-captain Nida Dar led from the front throughout her side’s campaign, contributing with both bat and ball.
Nida became the first Pakistani woman to score two half-centuries at a World Cup with 50 against New Zealand in their final game.
The off-spinner also picked up three for 39 against the White Ferns to cap an impressive tournament.
But it was the career-best four for 10 Nida took against the West Indies, the best bowling figures by a Pakistani woman at a 50-over World Cup, which snapped their 18-game winless streak.
Nida derailed the West Indian big-hitters with meticulous planning and accuracy, putting both herself and her country into the record books with Pakistan’s first World Cup win for 13 years.
Australia – Meg Lanning 135 not out v South Africa
Cricket fans should no longer be surprised by Australia captain Meg Lanning’s brilliance but ‘the Megastar’ continues to outdo herself with the bat.
There are several of her performances which deserve to make this list – her 97 in the record-breaking chase of 278 to beat India is worth an honourable mention – but Lanning’s unbeaten 135 off 130 balls against South Africa was the pick of her batting displays.
Both teams came into the game unbeaten and unlike previous run chases, Australia’s star openers Alyssa Healy and Rachael Haynes had departed cheaply, making just 22 between them.
But Lanning’s century came at more than a run a ball and included 15 fours and one six to power Australia from 45 for two to the 272 required for victory.