Dubai [UAE] : Four years on from their ICC Women’s World Cup success in Mumbai, Australia will once again meet the team they defeated in the final, West Indies, as they begin the defence of their title in Taunton on Monday.
And these two high-quality teams know each other well, having also met in the ICC World T20 Final in Kolkata just last year with the West Indies coming out on top.
With recent successes fresh in their memory, both sides have hopes of lifting silverware at the Home of Cricket on July 23, making this a key match to stamp their authority on the tournament.
The 2013 champion, Australia, enters the tournament in good form with two comfortable wins over South Africa and Pakistan by eight wickets and 103 runs respectively, in the warm-up matches.
Sarah Aley demonstrated her form by taking four for 16 to dismiss Pakistan for just 156 while Elyse Villani showed her prowess with the bat scoring 137 from just 112 balls against South Africa.
Captain Meg Lanning knows what it takes to win the ICC Women’s World Cup but is aware her side will have to be much-improved if it is to retain it this year.
“The build-up is definitely bigger this time around, the women’s game has moved on a lot since 2013 in India and the quality of cricket being played is really high,” she said.
“West Indies is good with bat and ball, we experienced that in India in the World Cup T20, it’s a very dangerous, side so we’re looking forward to it.We know we’re going to have to play really well to get the result we want and I think it’s a great way to start the tournament,” Lanning added.
In contrast to Australia, West Indies lost both its tournament warm-up games, being bowled out for just 63 by South Africa and then failing to defend 246 against Pakistan.
West Indies though is extremely familiar with many of the Australians due to their recent meeting and has had a number of its players, including Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews, competing in the Women’s Big Bash this winter.
And captain Stafanie Taylor is determined to treat the opening game of the tournament the same as any other, despite the ongoing rivalry and familiarity between the two sides.
“I think preparations should be nothing out of the norm, we’ll try and focus on our game,” she said.
“We know Australia is a tough opponent, it’s not an easy team to beat because it is the defending champion, which says it all.We have to go out there and play our cricket. We have a good squad, we’ve been together for over seven years so we know each other, I think we can definitely be competitive,” she added.
“I think we do have to find a balance, we have a fair amount of firepower in our team but we’ll try not to get too ahead of ourselves and play the cricket as it comes.”
Australia: Meg Lanning (captain), Sarah Aley, Kristen Beams, Alex Blackwell, Nicole Bolton, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani and Amanda-Jade Wellington.
West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (captain), Merissa Aguilleria, Reniece Boyce, Shamilia Connell, Shanel Daley, Deandra Dottin, Afy Fletcher, Qiana Joseph, Kyshona Knight, Hayley Matthews, Anisa Mohammed, Chedean Nation, Akeira Peters, Shakera Selman and Felicia Walters.