Trans-Tasman rivals square off in final

With six wins in a row over their trans-Tasman rivals, New Zealand start favourites against Australia in the World T20 final here at the Kensington Oval on Sunday afternoon. The Aussies are in line for a memorable double with their men’s team scheduled to take on England in the morning. While Michael Clarke and Co are fancied to win the title, New Zealand might just spoil what promises to be double delight for the Australians.

Aussie skipper Alex Blackwell was wary of her opponents. “We’ve not had a great record against New Zealand,” she had said about the prospect of meeting Kiwis in the final.
Having lost the title match to England in the inaugural edition, New Zealand will be keen to lay their hands on the trophy, but against Australia, it will be no walk in the park. Both the Aussies and the Kiwis had unbeaten runs en route to the semifinals, where they thumped India by seven wickets and West Indies by 56 runs respectively.

“We’ve got to take each game as it comes,” said New Zealand skipper Aimee Watkins. “What we’ve done in the past doesn't matter too much but we will take a lot of confidence into the game. We are lucky we’ve got two bites at the cherry, to have another crack at the Twenty20 World Cup. It’s not often you’ll have another one within 12 months of the last one.”

Leah Poulton and Blackwell have been the stand-out batswomen for Australia with 107 and 105 runs respectively from four matches each. Off-spinning all-rounder Lisa Sthalekar has been the pick of their bowlers while medium-pacewoman Ellyse Perry, with five wickets, has been well-supported by fellow new-ball bowler Shelly Nitschke (four wickets). Nitschke with 88 runs has been a vital cog in Australia’s set-up.   

For New Zealand, Sarah McGlashan, who scored a punishing 55-ball 84 against the West Indies in the semifinals, has been their batting lynchpin with 146 runs, the highest aggregate in the tournament. Suzannah Bates (88) too has been amongst the runs while right-arm quick Nicola Brown (seven wickets) and Lucy Doolan (six) have shouldered the bowling responsibilities admirably.

The contest may not set the pulse racing for obvious reasons but given the traditional rivalry between the two sides, the final should make for an interesting match-up.

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