Players to watch in ICC Women’s World Cup Final
After 30 games in 30 days across four grounds around the country, the wait is now over – the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 final is here.
After two thrilling semi-finals, just one match stands in the way of England and India getting their hands on the trophy, with the host looking to maintain its 100 per cent record of claiming the title on home soil.
But it’s a challenge that will be far from straightforward against an India side that knocked out defending ICC Women’s World Cup champion Australia in the semi-finals.
As if the game needed any extra edge, this is also a repeat of both sides’ opening game of the tournament when India prevailed in Derby by 35 runs.
That game on 24 June may now be a distant memory, but we’ve taken a lot at those who have shone across the tournament – the stars that could make the difference when it comes to lifting the trophy on Sunday.
Record-breaking, awe-inspiring and mesmerising in equal measure, there aren’t enough words to give justice to Harmanpreet Kaur’s semi-final innings against Australia.
She had threatened what was to come with 60 against New Zealand, but nobody really expect her to plunder the highest individual score in a knockout match in the ICC Women’s World Cup – 171 not out from just 115 balls.
The last 103 of those came from 40 deliveries in an astonishing array of hitting – and who is to say the batter couldn’t do it again come Sunday?
The 28-year-old was simply brilliant, and with confidence at its highest, England will have to be on its toes to keep the 27-boundary batter at bay at Lord’s.
As the world’s highest run-scorer of all time, there’s no way you can take Mithali Raj lightly.
The ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 saw her reach the mark and also become the first batter to 6,000 runs, overtaking Charlotte Edwards, with her 71 against England on the opening day helping her to that mark.
With 185 ODIs experience doesn’t come any stronger than Raj’s, an asset which proved vital in the must-win match against New Zealand, leading from the front with a century for her side.
Expectation will always follow the captain but with other batters stepping up to the plate, a chance of freedom and excitement could come her way as India looks for its first crown.
Few can cut the tag of all-round prodigy as well as Deepti Sharma has in her developing career to date.
Still only 19, Sharma came into the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 with expectations already behind her, taking six for 20 against Sri Lanka earlier in the year with a career average hovering around the 20 mark.
England will know all about her too, taking three vital wickets in the tournament opener on India’s way to victory – including the scalp of Natalie Sciver.
She has since followed that up with three wickets for 59 against Australia in the semi-final – boasting top-scorer Alex Blackwell among her victims – while Sharma has also proven herself with the bat with 78 and 60 against Sri Lanka and South Africa respectively.
An all-rounder may be considered a star with bat and ball, but England’s Sarah Taylor has shown it can be done with bat and gloves too.
The wicketkeeper-batter came to the fore when it mattered most in the semi-final, scoring 54 in victory over South Africa to go with her 147 against the same opposition earlier in the tournament.
That ticked Taylor’s average over the 50 mark for the competition, but her commanding presence behind the stumps is also well worth keeping an eye on.
That was none more so than against South Africa, with a lightning quick stumping to dismiss counterpart Trisha Chetty. India will not dare venture out of its crease for long.
She may claim it came from more luck than judgement, but Natalie Sciver has so far revolutionised ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 – in just one shot.
Firing the ball through her own legs, the ‘Natmeg’ has gone viral since being introduced against New Zealand – definitely worth the risk on her way to 129 to seal England’s place in the semi-finals.
That was her second ODI ton of the tournament and indeed her career, following 137 against Pakistan, but Sciver’s innovation could reach a new peak in front of a packed crowd at Lord’s.
As if she needs any more tricks up her sleeves ahead of the Indian challenge, the 24-year-old can also boast some handy medium-pace – taking a career-best three for three in the last group game against West Indies.
No England player has delivered more than the 62 overs bowled by Alex Hartley so far in the ICC Women’s World Cup.
If she had nerves on her first 50-over competition she certainly didn’t show it, with the spinner sitting with eight wickets ahead of the final on a Lord’s pitch which could offer her even more opportunities.
Figures of three for 44 have proved Hartley’s tournament highlight so far, a haul against New Zealand that included the impressive scalps of Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine, while she also bamboozled Australia captain Meg Lanning in its group game in Bristol.
Confidence seems to be on the rise for the 23-year-old too, arguably the most important part of a spinner’s armoury, as England looks to secure a hat-trick of ICC Women’s World Cup titles.
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