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 three-time defending champions Australia in the final of the ICC World Twenty20 in Kolkata on Sunday.
The Southern Stars, as the Aussie women are known, have been on a roll since winning the second edition of the Women’s World T20 in 2010.
The Meg Lanning-led Australian women’s side choked arch-rivals England’s 133-run chase with a five-run victory in the semifinal. Lanning has been their leading run-scorer with 149 runs, and against England her 50-ball 55 on a slow Kotla deck 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 overdependence on Lanning, Alyssa took the attack to the English pace spearhead Katherine Brunt, setting the tone for 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,” Australian 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, slow conditions of Eden Gardens, leg-break bowler Kristen Beams will look to form a potent combination with left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen.
Megan Schutt and Rene Farrell with their change of pace and the accuracy will be key to their pace bowling as they aim to win an unprecedented fourth successive title.
From their perspective, the Southern Stars will hope that Blackwell will return to form and display her array of strokes which may prove to be the difference.
The West Indies women, on the other hand, are living a dream after Britney Cooper’s maiden T20I half-century enabled them to progress to their first ever final.
They will look to win the title to inspire Darren Sammy and Co, who will play their final later on Sunday, as the Windies look to complete the first ever men’s, women’s double at the World T20.