Two heavyweights, one big prize

Between the two of them, reigning champions England and pre-tournament favourites Australia have won 10 of the 11 Women’s World Cups so far. That number will swell to 11 come Sunday (April 3), a staggeringly predictable finish to one of the most closely contested editions. But even in this lopsided custody battle of unarguably the two strongest sides in women’s circuit, Australia’s dominance is unmissable. They’re on a 11-match winning streak – Ashes glory included – since their world record 26-game unbeaten run came to an end six months ago. For more context, they’ve dropped only two of the 41 games in the format since being taken by surprise in the 2017 semifinal. Only fair that they go into the 2022 final as the deserving favourites, and looking to stamp their authority further with more silverware.

England, on the other hand, would be hoping the law of averages finally catches up with Australia after five years ( prolonged by a year due to the pandemic outbreak). Their title defence was left hanging by the proverbial thread after round-robin stage defeats to all other semifinalists – Australia, West Indies and South Africa but they managed to turn the tide in the nick of time and went on to trounce each of the eliminated four on the bounce to make it to the knockouts. On Thursday, it took career-best efforts from opener Danni Wyatt (129 of 125) and lead spinner Sophie Ecclestone (6/36) to pave their way to the final in what turned out to be another one-sided semifinal after Australia trounced West Indies by 157 runs a day prior.

Two defeats into their campaign, Lauren Winfield-Hill’s lean run forced England’s hand into tweaking what has been a well settled line-up for them in the lead-up. But the promotion back to the top of the order for Wyatt and the inclusion of young offspinner Charlie Dean both eventually worked out well for the side. The opener herself overcame a patchy start with an unbeaten 76 in the chase against Pakistan before her maiden World Cup hundred, while Dean is currently England’s second best bowler in the tournament and among the top-five (11 wickets). Once England locked in on that combination, they rarely fiddled without reason (except when they rested senior pacer Anya Shrubsole against Bangladesh).

While England’s road to the final was fraught with setbacks, Australia’s was almost smooth sailing and that can have its own set of pitfalls. England running them close in their high-scoring Ashes rematch of an opener and Bangladesh’s spirited fightback to reduce them to 70/5 in a modest chase of 136 bookend their league games, but Australia hardly broke sweat in back to back 270+ chases against India and South Africa. Scarily, they go into Sunday’s clash with an in-form batting, a robust and varied bowling attack, their fielding top-notch, their depth enviable and no evident weakness on the surface.

Australia are bidding for a record-extending seventh title that will make them across-formats champions and also undoubtedly earn Meg Lanning’s team the richly deserved sobriquet of The Invincibles. Standing in the way is Heather Knight & Co., looking to etch their name in history books as the first English side to claim back to back trophies. Perhaps even in this very predictable fight for the ultimate bragging rights, the finale befittingly has one last nail-bitter up it’s sleeve.

When:April 3, Sunday, at 2 PM Local | 1 AM GMT

Where:Hagley Oval, Christchurch

What to expect: Dew has played its part in the day-night games at Christchurch and the teams have expectedly preferred to chase here. The weather’s clear for the match day. Should there be any hindrance, there’s a reserve day in store.

Team News


Australia had been sweating over the fitness of star all-rounder Ellyse Perry ever since she walked off the field with back niggle in the league game against South Africa. However, after missing the semifinal, she’s pulled up fine in the fielding and batting drills two days out from the finale. Skipper Meg Lanning too has sounded optimistic of having Perry back with the final call likely to be taken after their nets on the eve of the contest. Annabel Sutherland would likely be the one making way.

Probable XI:Alyssa Healy (wk), Rachael Haynes, Meg Lanning (c), Ellyse Perry, Beth Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner, Tahlia McGrath, Alana King, Jess Jonassen, Megan Schutt, Darcie Brown


The reigning champions have a fully fit squad at their disposal to pick from, and are unlikely to alter their winning combination. Barring a last-minute concern, expect them to go into the title clash with an unchanged line-up.

Probable XI:Tammy Beaumont, Danni Wyatt, Heather Knight (c), Natalie Sciver, Amy Jones (wk), Sophia Dunkley, Katherine Brunt, Sophie Ecclestone, Charlie Dean, Kate Cross, Anya Shrubsole

Did you know?

– If they win, England will become the first women’s team in the 21st century to defend their World Cup crown.

– Rachael Haynes is five shy of overtaking Laura Wolvaardt as the leading run-scorer this edition, and 28 away from beating Debbie Hockley’s long-standing (1997) record tally of 456.

– Meg Lanning needs 50 to become the leading scorer in this World Cup, and is 62 away from 1000 runs in the tournament.

– Sophie Ecclestone needs four wickets to overtake Lyn Fullston’s record of most wickets in a single edition (23), set in the 1982 edition also held in New Zealand.

What they said?

“She can definitely play as a specialist bat and that’s probably the most likely scenario… Six (bowlers) are certainly enough, seven is bit of a luxury just in case you need to go to different options. But I think we’ve shown over a long period of time now that six bowlers is a good amount… It gives us some flexibility. At the end of the day, you’ve got to trust your bowlers and back them to be able to deliver and we’ve got six very good bowlers who we’ll take into this game and we’re fully confident that they’ll be able to do the job” – Meg Lanninghas no qualms bringing back Ellyse Perry into the playing XI as a pure batter

“I think winning will mean more after the start we had in this competition and being able to turn it around will be remarkable really, so that would make it even more special if we can do it tomorrow. And back-to-back [titles], we have an opportunity to make history being the first England team to do that and that’s such an exciting thing. Just being involved in World Cup finals is what you set your stall out as a player, what you try so hard for, what you want to be involved in, so there’s huge excitement in the group. We won’t think too much about it, as we saw in 2017 it’s all on the day. It’s a brand-new day, a brand-new game and a chance for us to go out and show what we can do” – Heather Knight is relishing her team’s shot at creating history

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