I had said in my Women’s World Cup tournament preview that the West Indies will be the one team that might just play spoil the party for the bigger sides. And that is precisely what has happened – the girls from the Caribbean have made it to their first ever final, and they will be taking on the same team they beat in the last Super Six match to reach the summit clash – Australia – in the final to be played at the Brabourne Stadium on 17th February.
The tournament in general has thrown up quite a few surprising results. Initially, it was unheralded Sri Lanka who threatened to do what West Indies did, by stunning both defending champions England and hosts India, the latter being knocked out in the group stage itself. But their fairy-tale ended in the Super Six, and they eventually finished 5th. On the other hand, the West Indies lost to both India and England in the group stage, thrashing Sri Lanka in between to help themselves enter the Super Six. The other finalists Australia were unbeaten until they lost to the West Indies, rendering the England-New Zealand Super Six match inconsequential. As I write this, holders England have beaten New Zealand for the second time in three days to take the 3rd place.
Road To The Final
Australia won all the three league matches played on the low-scoring Cuttack track. In spite of scoring just 175, they saw off Pakistan by 91 runs, before surviving a scare against South Africa while chasing 188, eventually winning by 3 wickets. They then beat New Zealand by 7 wickets, chasing 227, to top their group. In the Super Six, Australia defended just 147 to pip England by 2 runs in what has been the tournament’s most thrilling match and then went on to cruise past Sri Lanka’s modest 132 to win by 9 wickets, sealing a spot in the final. And just when they were aiming for a clean slate, they ran into West Indies, who beat them by 8 runs – Australia losing their last 6 for 26 during their chase of 164.
West Indies Women
Before the tournament, Merissa Aguilleira’s West Indies were considered as outsiders, and they did themselves no good by succumbing to a 105-run defeat to India in the very first match, where a target of 285 proved too much. However they signalled their intent in the next game by pulverising giant-killers Sri Lanka by 209 runs after scoring a massive 368/8. In the final group match they were just the opposite, shot out for 101 en-route to a 6-wicket defeat. But the win over Sri Lanka was enough for a Super Six spot, at India’s cost. They went on to make the Super Sixes their own, winning all three matches – chasing down South Africa’s 230/7 to win by 2 wickets, defending 207/9 to beat New Zealand by 48 runs, and finally scoring the 8-run win over Australia in the do-or-die game – their first against Australia in four attempts.
Head To Head
Australia and West Indies have played only four Women’s one-day internationals over the course of 20 years – Australia having a 3-1 advantage. The first time the two teams met was in the 1993 Women’s World Cup, when Australia won by 8 wickets at Tunbridge Wells. The second meeting took place in the 2005 edition when Australia prevailed by 79 runs at Rustenburg. In the 2009 edition, Australia won again, this time by 47 runs at Sydney. The latest instance was of course, West Indies’ 8-run win at Mumbai’s MIG ground in the ongoing tournament.
Players To Watch Out For
The 20-year old Schutt had played only two one-day internationals prior to the tournament, but the right-arm fast-medium bowler has been very effective, at this point the joint-highest wicket-taker along with England’s Anya Shrubsole with 13 wickets from 6 games at an average of only 16.15. She was at her best in the group match against New Zealand, where she rattled the top-order (3/40) to set up an easy win. The West Indian top-order is prone to a few reckless shots, and it might prove to be costly against the incisive Schutt.
This hard-hitting 21 year-old batswoman stunned Sri Lanka with an awesome 171 in their group game, and currently is the second-highest run-getter in the tournament. Besides a healthy average of 51.5, her strike-rate is an imposing 100.98, which can be reason enough for the Australians to take her very seriously. In addition, she is a handy off-break bowler. Australian captain Jodie Fields would be praying for Taylor to have an off-day in the final.
Who would not want the spunky West Indies Women to win their first World Cup! It would also be a real boost to the women’s game to have a world champion different from the traditional top teams. Plus they have momentum on their side, having beaten Australia just two days ago. But Australia are too good a side to lose twice to the same team in five days. Though I am not being certain at all, Australia do hold an edge as they aim to win their 6th title.