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Key battles in final between Australia and the West Indies
The West Indies defeated Australia for the first time ever in Women’s One-Day International cricket during the Super Sixes at the ICC Women's World Cup 2013. In a low-scoring thriller, the West Indies won by eight runs to set up a rematch in the final against Australia as it made its maiden entry into the title round.
The prospect of a battle between free-flowing and explosive West Indian batters like Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin against a fearsome Australian attack consisting of Megan Schutt, Ellyse Perry, Julie Hunter and Erin Osborne is mouth-watering. Here are a few potentially interesting battles that could prove decisive in the final of the 10th edition of the tournament on Sunday (February 17) at the Brabourne Stadium:
Stafanie Taylor vs Ellyse Perry
With 309 runs from six matches, Taylor is the second highest run-getter in the tournament and the team has relied on her to provide the impetus upfront. Taylor also has the record for the highest individual score of the tournament, 171, which she smashed against Sri Lanka in a must-win clash in the group stage. Up against her will be the Perry, arguably the fastest bowler in the women's game today. While Taylor seldom curbs her attacking style of play, Perry's reputation as Australia's best strike bowler could see this battle set the tone for the match.
Deandra Dottin vs Lisa Sthalekar
No ground is too small for Dottin, the 21-year-old. An explosive batter capable of taking the game away from the opposition in minutes, her presence in the middle is enough to give the opposition captain plenty to think about. What has been heartening from the West Indies point of view has been her patience and resolve to bail the team out of difficult situations. Her 60 in the Super Six clash against Australia came at a time when the innings was in tatters. That knock proved to be the difference in the end. But the experience of Sthalekar and Erin Osborne should Australia stand in good stead. A veteran of 124 One-Day Internationals, Sthalekar's loop and guile have brought her seven wickets in the tournament, making her a very dangerous proposition. Osborne too has proved her ability as a stock off-spin bowler. Her ability to maintain pressure at one end has been instrumental in Australia's bowling unit maintaining a stranglehold over its opponents.
Meg Lanning vs Tremanyne Smartt
Lanning, touted as a batter in the Adam Gilchrist mould, is waiting to explode. Her form coming into the World Cup was ominous, but so far with just one century against New Zealand in the group stage, many believe she is yet to fulfil her potential. The final could just be the platform she has been waiting for. In Smartt, the West Indies has a genuine swing bowler capable of moving the ball both ways. Given that the match will be a day-night encounter, there could be some assistance for the seamers under lights, which Smartt will look to exploit if the Australians bat second.
Jodie Fields vs Merissa Aguilleira
Both captains have completely different persona on and off the field. While Aguilleira is more outspoken, Fields is a quiet individual who would rather let her game do the talking. While Fields and her Australian team have had the experience of playing in a World Cup final before, the West Indies will be entering uncharted territory. Aguilleira's leadership ability will be tested, not just in terms of getting the best out of her team on the field, but also how she helps the team cope with the pressures of playing a World Cup final. Nerves, as much as skill, will play a crucial role. Aguilleira therefore has multiple challenges to address going into the final.