Australian leg-spinner Alana King has been cruelly denied an international hat-trick, with skipper Meg Lanning dropping a regulation catch during Sunday evening‘s Commonwealth Games contest against Barbados in Birmingham.

Barbados was 53/6 in the group stage match at Edgbaston when King removed Shakera Selman and Shamilia Connell in consecutive deliveries during the 15th over.

The wrist-spinner trapped both of the right-handers LBW to leave the Caribbean side reeling at 53/8.

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Keila Elliott was tasked with facing the hat-trick delivery, awkwardly prodding at a length delivery outside the off stump.

The edge flew towards Lanning at first slip, but the Aussie captain couldn‘t hold onto the straightforward catch.

“I‘ll have nightmares,” Lanning told reporters after the match.

“I wanted to dig a hole and jump in it as quick as I could.

“I don‘t know, I tried my best and I dropped it. I wasn’t overly pleased. Let’s put it that way.

“I was just disappointed for Kingy, she was bowling so well and to let her down like that was not ideal. But that‘s cricket, I guess.”

It would have just been the second T20I hat-trick for an Australian woman – seamer Megan Schutt achieved the rare feat against India in 2018.

Lanning isn’t the first cricketer to spill a hat-trick chance – the late Shane Warne infamously dropped a hat-trick delivery from Australian teammate Damien Fleming against India in 1999.

She made up for the blunder, somewhat, by smacking an unbeaten 21-ball 36 in the run chase to guide Australia towards a comprehensive nine-wicket victory and book their spot in the semi-finals.

The 30-year-old pummelled five boundaries and two sixes, combining with wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy for an unbroken 63-run partnership as Australia chased the 65-run target with 71 balls remaining.

“I was just keen to contribute really,” Lanning said. ”I was just pouncing on some loose balls when I got them.

“(The pitch) has tended to be a little bit tricky to start, and you‘ve got to get the pace of the wicket and make sure that you’re playing the appropriate shots … then once you get a feel for it, you can accelerate pretty quick.”

King finished with career-best figures of 4/8 from four overs, the sixth-best bowling performance by an Australian woman in T20 internationals.

The 26-year-old, who made her international debut earlier this year, has now taken 13 T20I wickets at 9.07. No Australian has taken more T20I scalps at a better bowling average than the Victorian.

“No one means to drop the ball or anything, it‘s just the way the game goes, but I’m happy that I could contribute in whatever way I can,” King said.

“Every ball I bowl I‘m trying to get a wicket so that was no different.

“It caught the outside edge … and that‘s just cricket, I guess. But I’m just really happy with how I played today.”

Australian all-rounder Tahlia McGrath also claimed career-best figures of 3/13, while off-spinner Ash Gardner finished with economical figures of 2/6 from four overs.

The Aussies, who remain red-hot favourites to return home with a gold medal, will next face Pakistan on Wednesday even at 8pm AEST.

“We‘re going out to win and play well against Pakistan … we know they’ve got a different skillset to the other teams, they bowl a lot of spin and have got a good variety as well,” Lanning said.

“So that‘s something new for us to look at it and make sure we come really well planned for.

“And just continuing to build, we felt like we did that today – we played better, better than we did the other day.

“We need to continue to do that because once we get to the semi-final stage, it‘s going to be pretty amazing cricket, and we’re going to have to play well.”

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