Kolkata: A spirited West Indies women’s cricket team, in their bid to make it a ‘Dream Double’ for the assortment of islands, will come out all guns blazing to stop the juggernaut of the three-time defending champions Australia in the final of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20, in Kolkata on Sunday. (Meg Lanning Leads Australian Women Into Final, With Win Over England)
Australia have been on a roll since winning the second edition of the Women’s World Twenty20 in 2010.
The Meg Lanning-led side choked arch-rivals England’s 133-run chase with a five-run victory in the semi-final. Lanning has been their leading run-getter with 149 runs and against England her 50-ball 55 on a slow Ferozeshah Kotla deck in New Delhi was the cornerstone to their winning total of 132/6.
More than Lanning’s effort it was inspiring the way Australia prevailed in small contributions from the top-order to inflict their killer instinct on England. They were provided a strong start from openers Alyssa Healy and Elyse Villani with a 41-run stand, their highest of the tournament.
Under criticism for over dependence on Lanning, Alyssa took the attack to the English pace spearhead Katherine Brunt, that really set the tone as they could muster a fine Powerplay performance.
“We’ve been pleased with our squad of 15 and our overall performance. I disagree that we relied heavily on one player. We’ve chased low totals. We’ve really benefited from the way Elyse Villani has kicked into gears and taken the game away in the opening overs,” Australia vice-captain Alex Blackwell said.
“You can’t ignore the impact of someone like Alyssa Healy and the way she took on Katherine. Small contributions can really be of high impact. Obviously Meg Lanning has been a real rock for us throughout. We’ve got plenty of players around. Ellyse Perry has been instrumental in our batting order in the recent years.”
In the spin-friendly and slow conditions of Eden Gardens their leg-break bowler Kristen Beams will look to make a potent force with left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen. Megan Schutt and Rene Farrell, with their change of pace and accuracy, will be key to their fast bowling as they aim to win an unprecedented fourth successive title.
From their perspective, the girls from Down Under will hope that Blackwell returns to form and display her array of strokes which may prove to be the difference.
The Windies women, on the other hand, are living a dream after Britney Cooper’s maiden Twenty20 International half-century enabled them to progress to their first ever final as they would look to win the silverware to inspire Darren Sammy and Co. later in the day as they will be eyeing for a double in the World Twenty20.
Australia may just be the heavyweights but an in-form West Indies stay ahead with their swagger and substance.
Fresh from her match-winning 48-ball 61 against New Zealand in the semis at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Cooper will be a dangerous proposition at No.3 for Australia. Ahead of her, skipper Stefanie Taylor, who is their leading scorer with 187 runs from five outings, will look to provide the start with Hayley Matthews.
Boasting eight wickets with her best of 3/13, Stefanie will also relish the Eden conditions and will look to play a role with her off-breaks.
Stefanie’s double-strike in the 17th over to dismiss Amy Sattherthwaite and Sara McGlashan had subsided New Zealand’s challenge.
The Windies are also far from being a one-woman side as Deandra Dottin down the order has played her role in infusing the intensity as and when required. It’s a team of utility players and the Windies will benifit heavily with Deandra chipping in with her gentle medium pace that has so far fetched her seven wickets giving regular breakthroughs.
Deandra’s sharp fielding is also noteworthy as her direct throw from point to dismiss dangerous looking Sophie Devine was crucial in restricting New Zealand to 137/8 in their chase of 144.
As for the stats, it’s heavily tilted in favour of Australia have never lost to their opponents from the West Indies with an 8-0 win-loss record in T20Is and 8-1 in one-days.
It will, however, remain to be seen how the spirited Windies live up to the experienced challenge from Australia who have been a force to reckon with since the days of Belinda Clark.
Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Alex Blackwell, Kristen Beams, Lauren Cheatle, Rene Farrell, Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Elyse Villani, Nicola Carey, Sarah Coyte, Holly Ferling, Jess Jonassen, Erin Osborne, Megan Schutt.
West Indies:Stafanie Taylor (c), Shakera Selman, Marissa Aguilleira, Shemaine Campbelle, Shamilia Connell, Britney Cooper, Deandra Dottin, Afy Fletcher, Stacy Ann-King, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Hayley Matthews, Anisa Mohammed, Shaquana Quintyne, Tremayne Smartt.