Defending champions Australia will be hoping for an encore as they take the field in the all-important final clash against the Indian Women’s cricket team at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday. The Aussies have plenty of power and experience in their line-up, while the Indians have been led by youthful flair and exuberance in the tournament thus far.
The match-up between the two sides promises to be an exciting affair, and we list the five players who could potentially turn the game around on March 8.
Alyssa Healy – The Player of the Tournament in the 2018 Women’s T20 World Cup, Alyssa Healy is one of the most dangerous batters, who will be expected to lead the team from the front. The opener has a strike rate of more than 130 in the T20I format, which is evidence of how dangerous she can be at the top and in the powerplay overs. Healy, who had scored just 14 runs in 5 innings before the event began, got back to form with a knock of 51 against India when the two sides had met in the tournament opener. She hit another fifty in the group stages – 83 against Bangladesh – and in the absence of Ellyse Perry, out injured, the onus will be on Healy to bat with aggression.
Megan Schutt – The world number one ICC T20I bowler, Megan Schutt has picked up 85 wickets in 66 matches at an average of just 15.68 and an economy rate of less than 6. The bowler, however, had gone wicketless when she played against India in the league stages, but now has nine wickets in her last four matches. She picked up 2 for 17 in the semi-final clash against the South African Women and will be the key against a wobbly Indian batting unit.
Shafali Verma – The 16-year old youngster has scored 161 runs from 100 balls in the group stages, and has led the charge for the Indian Eves. With Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur not in the best form, the responsibility has been on Verma to lead her team to competitive totals, a task that she has fulfilled with ease. Her fearless strokeplay and her aggressive batting have already forced Schutt to acknowledge that she will fear bowling to Verma in the finals. The Rohtak cricketer was recently ranked as the number one batter in the ICC T20I Women’s rankings, and she will be eager to play another match-winning innings to help her team to the inaugural ICC title.
Poonam Yadav – The spinner has been the key player for the Indian team, helping the side to wins even when the target on the board was not a hefty one. She picked up 4 for 19 when the two sides last met in the group stage and picked up five more wickets in the next three games. Her short height bamboozles the batters, while her slower deliveries ensure that the opponents are unable to read her well. Her googlies and her variations make her a tough bowler to face, and if India can pile on more than 140 runs, Poonam can be expected to defend the score.
Harmanpreet Kaur – The Indian skipper is in a dismal run of form and averages 6.50 in four games in the edition thus far. However, she is a big-match player and can be the X-factor heading into the game. Harmanpreet had scored an unbeaten 171 in the semis of the 50-over World Cup in 2017 and scored another hundred in the T20 World Cup two years ago against New Zealand. The Indian team will be hoping that their biggest star can raise her game, and she will be an important player.