Arch-rivals England and Australia will clash in the first ever International Cricket Council (ICC) stand-alone Women’s World T20 (WWT20) Final, to be held at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, West Indies from 20:00h Eastern Caribbean time.
This is a highly anticipated match, as both Australia and England had registered contrasting victories in the semifinals; Australia defeating West Indies by 71 runs, and England stunning India by eight wickets.
Five times’ finalists Australia are making their appearance in this World T20 final, and will be looking for a fourth title when they meet England today.
Australia began their campaign with a crushing 52-run win against Pakistan at Providence in Demerara, Guyana. The trans-Tasmanian giants scored a daunting 165-5 in that match, with Player-of-the-Match Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney scoring 48 runs each. The bowlers then defended that target comfortably, restricting Pakistan to 113-8.
The dominant performances continued in the second match, with Alyssa Healy, wife of Mitchell Starc, continuing her fantastic tournament, winning another Player-of-the- Match award. The Australian bowlers, spearheaded by Megan Schutt, had restricted Ireland to 93-6 in 20 overs, before Healy blazed a 31-ball-56 to complete a comprehensive victory in Australia’s second match.
Australia then faced a tougher opponent in New Zealand, in their third group match in Guyana. The results were no different for Australia, as they completed a 33-run victory, with the ever-dependable Healy scoring a scorching half-century. Megan Schutt bowled brilliantly in that match to restrict New Zealand to 120 all out, but Healy was again awarded Player-of-the-Match for her outstanding batting and glove work.
In Australia’s fourth group match, underdogs India handed the mighty Aussies their first defeat. Led by Mandhana’s 83 and Kaur’s 43, India scored 167 and restricted Australia to 119 all out. Healy was unable to save her team, as in that match she had suffered a mild concussion and was unable to bat.
Heading into the semifinals against the defending champions West Indies, all eyes had been on the fit-again Healy, who delivered with her fourth Player-of-the-Match performance. She led Australia to 142-5, enabling her side to win by 71 runs, having restricted the Caribbean team to 71 all out.
Meg Lanning, Australia’s captain, has led her team brilliantly throughout this tournament, and is expected to add another World T20 Trophy to their cabinet.
England have been brilliant in 2017, winning the ICC Women’s 50 Over World Cup in home conditions, but Captain Heather Knight and her team desperately desired a World T20 trophy.
The English women, playing their group matches in St Lucia, did not have the ideal start to the tournament. Their first match was abandoned due to rain in St Lucia. However, in their second match, they comprehensively beat Bangladesh by seven wickets in a low-scoring encounter, with debutant Kristie Gordon starring.
In their third group match, a must-win encounter against South Africa, Natalie Sciver and Anya Shrubsole starred for the English women in a low-scoring match, which England won by seven wickets after bowling out South Africa for 85.
The Stafanie Taylor-led West Indies team overcame England by four wickets in a nail-biting affair in a packed St Lucia ground. That was England’s first loss, when they were restricted to 115-8 by the all-rounder Deandra Dottin. However, they still made it to the semifinals in their bumpy World T20 campaign.
The batters have not been consistent for England in this tournament, but in the semifinals against India, Amy Jones and Natalie Sciver came to the party with unbeaten half centuries to take England into the grand finale.
Today’s final is expected to be a show of high-quality cricket between Australia and England, who respectively are currently ranked numbers one and two in T20 International cricket. (Brandon Corlette)