Armchair guide: Who will shine in World Cup final?
MORE than 75,000 tickets have been sold to Sunday's T20 World Cup final between Australia and India at the MCG, with the ICC releasing extra standing room tickets on Saturday expected to further boost attendance.
The ICC still has its eyes firmly on setting a world record for the largest attendance at a stand-alone women's sporting event - currently set in California in 1999 when 90,185 sat in the Rose Bowl to watch the FIFA Women's World Cup final between the United States and China.
The 2020 World Cup has already set new attendance records: the 13,432 who watched Australia play India in the opening game at the Sydney Showground on February 21 was the largest attendance for a women's cricket match in Australia.
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That record should be smashed on Sunday, as will the Australian attendance record for any sport which currently sits at 53,034, set at Adelaide Oval in March last year when the Crows beat Carlton for the 2019 AFLW premiership.
ICC T20 World Cup 2020 local organising committee chief executive Nick Hockley said the expected attendance would vindicate the decision to play the final at the cricket ground with the largest capacity in Australia.
The new issue of standing room tickets are $10 and every kids' ticket remains $5.
"It's about making sure that as many people as possible can be a part of what's going to be a pretty special occasion," Hockley said.
"The match starts at 6pm, but we encourage people to be in their seats by 5pm."
Hockley said there would be a lasting legacy around the unprecedented support shown to women athletes, not just in Australia, but around the world.
"To think that perhaps 80,000-to-90,000 people at the MCG, with the game beamed live around the world on International Women's Day that gives me goosebumps about what message that gives to girls and boys," he said.
"It's very exciting to think about young kids waking up in India, to watch their team play.
"The amazing support we've had all around the country, from the venues and cities and cricket fans … the way everyone's got behind this World Cup, there will be a real, genuine legacy left behind."
1. ALYSSA HEALY
Right-hand bat, wicketkeeper
T20I record: 111 matches, 1985 runs, highest score: 148*, 41 catches, 48 stumpings
She's just as important to the team's performance from behind the stumps as she is opening the batting alongside Beth Mooney, Healy debuted in the shorter format for Australia in 2010 and since then has played 111 T20 internationals where she's hit a combined total of 1985 runs. She'll be looking to break through the 2000-run-mark in the final, after she was the best of the Aussie batters facing the Indian attack, with her 51 (35 balls). The 29-year-old has a strike rate of 130.5 at this level and has 11 international half-centuries to her name. In this tournament, she's put her pre-World Cup batting jitters to one side, with 161 runs to her name and a top score of 83. Her strike rate this tournament - 143.75 - is the best of any of the Aussie batters. With the gloves, she's had two catches and four stumpings.
2. MEG LANNING
T20I record: 103 matches, 2772 runs, highest score: 133*
Lanning has led this Australian side magnificently during the tournament. The Australians have battled the biggest travel schedule, two long-term injuries to Ellyse Perry and Tayla Vlaeminck, suffered through a first-game defeat and overcome criticism of the batting line-up. In all of that, Lanning has had a tournament to remember, putting in a Player of the Match performance in the semi-final victory over South Africa. Lanning has the highest average of the Aussie batters this World Cup, with 58, and has taken four crucial catches in the field. She also fittingly celebrated her 100th T20I game in Aussie colours when they took on Sri Lanka. From her 103 games, the right-hand batter has smashed an incredible number of runs - 2772 - including 332 fours and 36 sixes, with a strike rate of 117.11.
3. JESS JONASSEN
Slow left-arm orthodox, left-hand bat
T20I record: 78 matches, 66 wickets, BBM: 5/12, eco: 5.43
With Ellyse Perry out of the side, there are holes in both the Aussie batting and bowling line-ups, which is where the likes of Jonassen come in. The 27-year-old was the pick of the Australian bowlers in their opening game loss to India in February, taking 2/24, with the key wickets of Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur. In 78 T20Is, she's hit 422 runs, with a high score of 47, and taken 66 wickets. The left-hander can expect an elevation in the batting order, as was seen in the team's semi-final against South Africa, when she was put in to bat at No. 4 (in the opening game against India, she was on the team sheet at No. 8). Spin options have been crucial this series and alongside the likes of Georgia Wareham and Sophie Molineux, she will be looking to do damage.
1. SHAFALI VERMA
T20I record: 18 matches, 485 runs, highest score: 73
Verma is only 16 years old and yet has been one of the most threatening - and feared - batters this T20 World Cup has seen. Being compared with Sachin Tendulkar, her basic instinct is to whack the ball over the rope. The opener only debuted for India in September last year, but in her 18 international matches to date, has hit 58 fours and 21 sixes. That aggressive stroke play and instinct has elevated her in the world rankings, and earlier this week she became the newly crowned world No 1. T20 batter in the ICC player rankings. When India beat Australia in the World Cup's opening game on February 21, Verma smacked 29 runs off 15 balls (including five fours and one six) at a strike rate of 193, the best of any batter in that game. For the four games she played (India's semi-final was a washout and automatically qualified for Sunday's final thanks to their four group wins), she's hit 161 runs, with a 161 strike rate - the best of the entire tournament.
2. HARMANPREET KAUR
Right-hand bat, right-arm offbreak
T20I record: 113 matches, 2182 runs, highest score: 103, 29 wickets, BBM: 4/23, econ: 6.13
India's captain has had an unusually quiet World Cup performance to date: from four innings she hit only 26 runs and hasn't take the ball at all, but she's led the young Indian side to the final in undefeated fashion. And with world class players like her, it's not about what she's done in the games leading into a final, it's what she's capable of doing once she's there. Kaur has broken Aussie hearts in the past: her unbeaten 171 from 115 balls in the 2017 ODI World Cup semi-final knocked Australia out. The 30-year-old has played 113 T20I games for India since debuting in 2009, and in 101 innings has hit 2182 runs. She bowled her right-arm offbreak in 53 of those matches, taking 29 international wickets.
3. POONAM YADAV
Right-arm Legbreak, googly
T20I record: 66 matches, 94 wickets, BBM: 4/9, econ: 5.61
Poonam came into the World Cup under an injury cloud having had a plate inserted in her broken index finger in December. But she returned in triumphant form, putting in a Player of the Match performance against Australia in the opening game, taking 4/19 from four overs. In that game she claimed the prized scalps of Alyssa Healy, Rachael Haynes, Ellyse Perry and Jess Jonassen. Her ultra-slow spin taught the Australians a batting lesson. At 28, Poonam has played 66 T20Is for India and taken 94 wickets at a strike rate of 15.1. Not one for bowling in the power play, she is often brought in during the middle overs where she wreaks her havoc; she will be a key for India to beat Australia.
AUSTRALIA'S ROAD TO THE FINAL
Australia v India
February 21, 7pm, Sydney Showground
Lose by 17 runs
Ind: 4/132 (20 overs)
Aust: 115 (19.5 overs)
Player of the Match: Poonam Yadav (Ind)
After Australia contained India to 132, Alyssa Healy returned to form, belting a quickfire 51 runs (35 balls), before being caught and bowled by Poonam Yadav, sparking a dramatic batting collapse, where nine batters scored a combined total of only 28. While Molly Strano made her World Cup debut having been brought into the side to replace the injured Tayla Vlaeminck, Jess Jonassen was the best with the ball with 2/24.
Australia v Sri Lanka
February 24, 3pm, WACA
Win by five wickets
Aust: 5/123 (20 overs)
Sri: 6/122 (20 overs)
Player of the Match: Rachael Haynes (Aust)
Nicola Carey made her first-ever World Cup appearance and celebrated it by taking the prized scalp of Sri Lankan captain Chamari Athapaththu, who'd just hit a half-century. In reply, the Aussie top-order crumbled to 3/10, before captain Meg Lanning and her deputy Rachael Haynes combined for a 95-run partnership that proved the vital to getting the Aussie World Cup campaign back on track.
Australia v Bangladesh
February 27, 7pm, Manuka Oval
Win by 86 runs
Aust: 1/189 (20 overs)
Bang: 9/103 (20 overs)
Player of the Match: Alyssa Healy (Aust)
After batting wobbles in their two opening games, Aussies openers Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney piled on a record-breaking 151-run partnership, both making half-centuries and having fun doing it. Megan Schutt took 3/21 with the ball as Bangladesh were completely outclassed.
Australia v New Zealand
March 2, 3pm, Junction Oval
Win by four runs
Aust: 5/155 (20 overs)
NZ: 7/151 (20 overs)
Player of the Match: Georgia Wareham (Aust)
Sent into bat, Aussie opener Beth Mooney piled on a beautiful 60 (50 balls) before Rachael Haynes proved her middle-order worth knocking an unbeaten 19 runs from only eight balls. In the run chase, NZ came so close with Sophie Devine (31 from 36) and Katey Martin (37 from 18) leading the way, but Georgia Wareham and Megan Schutt both had hauls of "three-fa" that proved the difference. Heartbreak came with Ellyse Perry tearing her hamstring.
Australia v South Africa
March 5, 7pm, SCG
Win by 5 five runs (DLS Method)
Aust: 5/134 (20 overs)
SA: 5-92 (13 overs)
Player of the Match: Meg Lanning (Aust)
Despite rain delaying the start, Australia got 20 overs in, with Meg Lanning putting in a captain's knock of an unbeaten 49. When rain again threatened to abandon play during the innings break - and there was another delay - play resumed with only nine minutes to spare until a washout would have been declared and Australia's World Cup over. Megan Schutt starred with the ball taking 2/17, taking the crucial wickets of Dane van Niekerk and Sune Luus.