Australia and England are set to face off in the final of the ICC Women’s World T20 for the third time at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Sunday.
Should Australia emerge victorious, it will be a record fourth title for them in this format. A win for England will see them hold both the T20I and ODI world titles at the same time; a feat they have previously achieved once before in 2009.
“I’m just really excited to be playing in a World Cup semis and now a final. This is why you play the game. You want to be involved in games like this, Australia captain Meg Lanning said ahead of the game.
“We’ve spoken a lot as a group about enjoying our cricket and really having a smile on our face and just embracing the opportunity that we’ve gotten. We wanted to do that again yesterday, and that’s what we’ll be doing in the final as well,” she added.
Meanwhile, England skipper Heather Knight stated that she was proud of the way her team – which consists of quite a few youngsters – have fought to get to the final.
“It’s a real achievement, I think especially (considering) the inexperience we’ve brought to this tournament, and the girls are massively excited,” Knight said.
“It’s probably not been the smoothest ride to get to the final, but the main thing is we’re here and we’ve got another opportunity to have a shot at winning a global trophy again and what an achievement it would be, how special it would be, if we could be double white-ball champions.”
In the batting department, Australia will depend on a strong start from wicket-keeper Alyssa Healy, who has scored 203 runs in the tournament.
She currently needs 55 more runs to pass Lanning’s record for the most runs in a single edition of the ICC Women’s World T20 and the two will be key to any chances of success for the Southern Stars.
“I didn’t feel great batting out there in the middle last night (vs. Windies), sort of scratching around a little bit. But I guess it was a good partnership there with Midge (Healy) to get us to a pretty competitive total there,” said Lanning.
“I feel like I’m hitting the ball well. It was nice to spend some time out in the middle yesterday. But (I’m) looking to improve on that tomorrow,” she added.
With the ball, Ellyse Perry has been a tricky customer even on surfaces that don’t aid pace and currently close to becoming only the second woman to take 100 T20I wickets.
England will be pleased with the way the batsmen fared against India but it has been their bowlers who have shone throughout the tournament. Left-arm spinner Kirstie Gordon has been particularly impressive.
Gordon is the joint second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament with eight scalps, and has shown match-winning credentials in just her first tournament.
However, both skippers are in agreement that the final will be a tough nut to crack for either side. Lanning praised her side for their win in the semis but added that there was still one more step to remain.
“I thought we played well (in the semi-final). But at the same time, we were very, very clear that we had one more step to go. We’ve given ourselves the chance, I guess, but we need to make sure we get the job done tomorrow night,” stated Lanning.
Knight, meanwhile, went on to state that England and Australia have been two of the best sides over the past few years and that the final will be a “tight game”.
“I think you can’t really ignore that it’s the old enemy, can you? It’s probably the two best teams in the world historically over the last few years, and we’ve had some amazing games of cricket recently.
“We had the Ashes series we drew out in Australia and a really good T20 series out there for us, where we won 2-1, and the game to finish off the series was a real thriller. So all history suggests it’s going to be a really good game, really tight game.”