Five-time champions Australia will walk in with the twin aims of revenge and title triumph when they take on a spirited West Indies, a team which has punched above its weight all through, in the summit clash of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup here on Sunday.
Australia were undefeated in the series until the West Indies beat them by eight runs in their last Super Six match. The team from Down Under would be keen to avenge that loss and win the trophy for the sixth time.
But the Aussies have a few issues to sort out ahead of the clash against the Caribbeans, who have made the final for the first time.
The batters have not fired in unison for Australia and openers Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes haven’t been able to provide a good platform, except the 55-run stand they shared in the game against Sri Lanka.
Lanning, who scored 112 in her team’s victory over New Zealand, hasn’t been able to convert the starts into a meaningful score, while her opening partner Haynes, except for her unbeaten 71 against Sri Lanka, hasn’t contributed much in the series with the bat.
But with a formidable bowling attack, the Jodie Fields-led side would hope to restrict West Indies to a modest score in the final.
Pacer Megan Schutt is one of the leading wicket-takers with 13 scalps, while the 17-year-old Holly Ferling, who made her debut in this World Cup, has been impressive with nine wickets in four matches.
Australia have been without the services of pace spearhead Ellyse Perry in the last three games and they would hope that she recovers from her ankle injury to be fit for the crucial encounter.
On the other hand, West Indies will look to rewrite history and get their hands around the coveted trophy for the first time.
The odds might favour Australia, having won three of their four World Cup matches against West Indies, but the Caribbean side will have the psychological advantage of defeating them in the previous game.
After starting as underdogs, West Indies have emerged as the dark horses in the tournament. They stunned Australia to reach the finals and become the table-toppers in the Super Six stage.
The Merissa Aguilleira-led side, who at the group stage looked doubtful to make it through the next round, entered the Super Six stage when hosts India were knocked out due to a 138-run loss against Sri Lanka.
Having lost two games with a heavy margin in the group stage, the Caribbean side bounced back by winning all the three matches in the Super Six stage to enter the final.