Perry stars as Aussie women win final thriller

BRIDGETOWN: Ellyse Perry took three wickets and held her nerve in a tense last over as Australia beat New Zealand by just three runs in a thrilling women''s World Twenty20 final.

With the White Ferns needing 14 off the last over, Perry -- backed up by fine fielding from Rene Farrell and Shelley Nitschke -- didn''t give up a boundary and the pace bowler finished with impressive figures of three wickets for 18 runs from her maximum four overs.

Victory came just hours after Australia''s men''s team had lost in the corresponding final to arch-rivals England.

The result was tough on Sophie Devine, whose 38 not out off 35 balls rescued New Zealand from a top order collapse to give them a shot at victory just a year after they were beaten in the final to England at Lord''s.

New Zealand, chasing a modest 109 for victory after holding their rivals to 103 for six, slumped to 29 for four inside eight overs.

"We believed our total was going to be enough," said Australia captain Alex Blackwell. "I know our bowling attack has the level-mindedness to get through whatever challenge was in front of them," she added.

Perry, the player of the match, said: "From all the games we''ve played against New Zealand, they never give up and nor do we so we were all expecting it to go down to the wire."

Also an Australian international football player, Perry said of her final over: "It''s a fantastic opportunity to win a World Cup for your country rather than lose it. That''s how you have to approach things like that.

"I feel very grateful to Alex for believing I could do it and I felt I had the support of my team which was really obvious in the fielding of Rene and Shelley down on the boundary."

Australia men''s captain Michael Clarke put aside his own disappointment to watch the women''s final along with some of his team-mates and Blackwell said: "That was fantastic, to have Michael Clarke and a lot the boys watching us.

"I think that really helped us stay in the game and fight to win this world cup for Australia."

New Zealand captain Aimee Watkins was left to rue her side''s batting after fine work by the White Ferns'' attack.

"It''s obviously disappointing. We bowled really well and I thought after that we deserved to win the game. But we lost early wickets, had too many dot balls through the middle period and we dug ourselves into a hole. We just left our launch too late."

By the time Rachel Priest was out, New Zealand were in dire straits at 36 for five.

However, Nicola Browne (20) helped Devine add 41 for the sixth wicket.

And when she exited, Devine kept going, striking Farrell for four and six off the last two balls of the 19th over.

That left New Zealand with 14 to win, off the final over from Perry.

A single got Devine back on strike and she then took several twos to leave the target down to seven off the last two balls.

Another two left the Kiwis needing five off the last ball but they could only manage a single.

Earlier, Browne rocked Australia with a new-ball burst of two wickets for 11 runs during an innings where the top score was Leah Poulton''s 20.

Browne forced opener Ellyse Villani (six) to spoon a drive to cover and then dismissed Australia captain Alex Blackwell for nought, with the aid of a fine catch in the gully by Devine.

In the end, Australia were grateful for a late stand of 27 between Sarah Elliott and Lisa Sthalekar.