Five-time champions Australia will face the West Indies in the final of the Women’s World Cup at the Cricket Club of India’s Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai Sunday.
It will be the tenth final of the women’s showcase event, which began in 1973, and the third final in India.
Both teams have had contrasting paths to the final. Australia, the most successful team to date in tournament history, won all but one of its matches on way to the final with the side losing just to its fellow finalist, the West Indies, in its last Super Six game.
The women from the Caribbean managed one win in the group stage, to secure their Super Six position, before winning all three vital Super Six matches. The West Indies’ win over Australia in their last Super Six game ousted defending champions England and New Zealand out of championship contention and, for the first time since 2009, there will be a new team at the top of the ODI rankings after England’s slip to third post-tournament.
Australia’s women have all contributed to the side’s journey to the final: they have been well served particularly by pacer Megan Schutt, who is currently the joint highest wicket-taker of the tournament along with Anya Shrubsole, with 13 wickets. She has had great support from her new-ball partner Holly Ferling — the youngster made her debut for the Southern Stars in this event.
Veteran Australia spinner Lisa Sthalekar and her off-spin partner Erin Osborne have made sure that the bowling has been tight in the middle overs for Jodie Fields’ side.
Australia’s batters perhaps have not performed as well as expected during the tournament, however, Rachael Haynes has the highest run aggregate among all the batters in the event and currently has 221 runs in six games with two half-centuries.
The West Indies, on the other hand, were staring at an exit after losing to England in the group stages but the team has powered its way back to make the final for the first time.
“This tournament has been a real roller-coaster for us,” said West Indies captain Merissa Aguilleira.
“There have been lots of ups and downs. But I guess that’s where the true spirit lies where you are able to come back from a depth where you don’t feel you are able to see yourself through. I must say we stuck together as a team,” said the hairdresser-turned-cricketer from Trinidad.
The skipper said the side was not short of inspiration after the West Indies men won the World Twenty20 last year.
“We think of the ICC World Twenty20 final, where the guys barely made it through, but still went on to win the trophy. We can look at that and see what could happen to us,” said Aguilleira.
Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin have been the stand-out duo for the side. Taylor has certainly been the all-rounder of the tournament thus far with 309 runs and six wickets in six games, highlighting once again why she is the current ICC Women’s ODI Player of the Year. Dottin has been dangerous with both bat and ball scoring 204 runs and taking nine wickets with her medium pace bowling.