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Shafali Verma

A countdown to the key battles this ICC Women’s World T20 finals

Analysing the crucial individual contests that will dictate the fate of the teams in the championship decider

By The Telegraph
  • Published 6.03.20, 7:15 PM
  • Updated 6.03.20, 7:15 PM
  • a min read
  •  

With India taking on defending champions Australia in the final of the ICC Women’s World T20 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground tomorrow, The Telegraph analyses the crucial individual contests that will dictate the fate of the teams in the championship decider.

1. Shafali Verma vs Megan Schutt

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Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
India’s 16-year-old wonder girl Shafali Verma (in picture) has set this T20 World Cup alight with some of the cleanest hitting seen at the highest level of the women’s game. Verma storms into the final on the back of 161 runs in the tournament and in possession of the number one ICC ranking for batswomen in T20Is. If India are to challenge Australia for the title, Verma will have to hand the women in blue the initiative with her explosive starts at the top of the order. Tasked with preventing Verma from doing just that will be Megan Schutt, Australia’s ace fast bowler, who topped the ICC bowling standings in the shortest format prior to the World Cup and has already taken a hat-trick against India in her superb T20I career. In the absence of the injured Elysse Perry, greater responsibility will lie on the experienced shoulders of Schutt, who will be hoping to avoid the treatment meted out to her by Verma in the tournament’s opening game, when the mercurial teenager pinged four boundaries off Schutt’s bowling inside the opening overs. In many ways, this is a clash between the most dangerous batswoman in T20s and its most wily speedster, and something will have to give when these two forces collide on Super Sunday.

2. Harmanpreet Kaur vs Jess Jonassen

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Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
Neither of these star women has been at the top of their game in the tournament thus far, which makes this showdown even more intense, considering how much value they hold for their respective sides. Although she has led India to a flawless record in the competition thus far, doubts have swirled over Harmanpreet Kaur’s (in picture) batting woes and how much of a burden captaincy has exerted on her free-scoring game. With just 26 runs in four games, Kaur is due a big performance and Indian fans will be hoping that she has reserved her best for the final. Jess Jonassen herself has not performed to potential and Australia’s premier all-rounder will look to make amends for a poor showing against South Africa in the semi-final with a strong return to form against the Indians. The last time these two squared off, Jonassen got the better of Kaur, albeit somewhat fortuitously. This time around, Jonassen may need to count more on her discipline than luck if she is to stop Kaur from coming to the party in what could be the biggest night in the history of Indian women’s cricket.

3. Deepti Sharma vs Delissa Kimmince

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Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
When India found themselves in a tricky position against Australia last time around, it was Deepti Sharma’s composed unbeaten innings of 49 that put the team in a stable position. As one of the game’s leading all-rounders, Deepti (in picture) should be reliable as ever with her off-breaks, but it is with the bat that she might come to define the course of the match. Should India’s top order fail to shine in the final, the onus will be on Deepti to steer her side to a fighting total and in doing so she will have to encounter Delissa Kimmince. A white ball specialist, Kimmince’s is not the first name one is drawn to in the Australian set-up, but despite going under the radar for a handful of years, she remains an integral component of Lanning’s bowling artillery. What makes Kimmince especially useful is her range of slower deliveries, which Deepti would have to watch out for if she is to prevail in this underrated match up that could set the tone for the final.

4. Poonam Yadav vs Meg Lanning 

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Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
Poonam Yadav’s (in picture) bewitching figures of four wickets for just 19 runs resulted in Australia’s capitulation in the group stage game between the finalists, and Yadav will once again be instrumental in controlling the game’s tempo during the middle overs. Joint top wicket-taker at this World T20 with Megan Schutt, Yadav’s most important parts of the spell could well coincide with the presence of Meg Lanning at the crease. By her meteoric standards, this has not been an exceptional event for Lanning, but the Australian captain came good as she rode her luck on her way to a vital match-winning knock in the semi-final and will be oozing confidence come the big day at the MCG. Both these women are no strangers to pressure but with everything to play for, it will be intriguing to see how each counters the other. If Lanning can neutralise Yadav and milk the Indian bowlers at the other end, it could go a long way in determining the momentum and eventual outcome of the final.

5. Shikha Pandey vs Alyssa Healy

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Photo Credit: Sourced by The Telegraph
One of India’s relatively unsung members in their journey to the final, Shikha Pandey (in picture) has proved to be more than a handful with her medium pacers, pocketing seven wickets in the tournament already. This haul includes three pivotal wickets against the Aussies in the competition opener. For Australia’s Alyssa Healy, the World Cup has represented a fascinating shift in fortunes, with her previously horrendous set of scores banished from memory thanks to a couple of spectacular knocks in the group stages. The first of these knocks was a 35-ball 51 against India, which threatened to take the game away from Pandey and Co. With Healy — much like Shafali Verma for India — charged with getting her team off to a blistering beginning, Pandey’s focus on line and length could be the ideal antidote to the Australian’s expansive hitting.