The oldest and the most intense rivalry in women's cricket is set to be renewed at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur when England and Australia fight for the 2014 Women's World Twenty20 title today. The battle starts at 2:30pm.
Australia, the two-time defending champions, will look to make it a hattrick of titles, while England, the winners of the inaugural event in 2007, will look to avenge their defeat in the last edition's final two years ago.
On paper, these two are very evenly matched sides and have reached the final in quite a similar fashion. Australia began their campaign with a defeat against New Zealand, but since then they have muscled out South Africa, Ireland and Pakistan in group stages before overcoming a spirited West Indies in the semifinals. England, too, started with a defeat, against the West Indies. But then they breezed past India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka before making light work of South Africa in the semifinals.
So this will be the third final for both teams, and while Australia have won the previous two, England have managed to win only once, losing the other, the last one against these opponents.
Both teams rely heavily for their success on their skippers -- Meg Lanning, the 22-year-old Australia skipper who is the number one ranked batswoman in this format, and Charlotte Edwards, the 35-year-old English batter who occupies the second position.
England's main strength has been their bowling. They have restricted sides to small totals or defended scores successfully, thanks to the swing bowling of Anya Shrubsole, who has taken the most number of wickets in the tournament (12) at the lowest average and economy rate.
Shrubsole has been well complemented by the other seamers -- Natalie Sciver and Jenny Gunn -- while Rebecca Grundy has been handy with her left-arm spin. England's batting has not been as bright as their bowling or fielding, but openers Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor have more often than not made sure that the middle and lower orders have remained largely untested.
While Australia's bowling has not been as effective as England's, they have variation in bowling, with Sarah Coyte and Ellyse Perry being the premier medium pacers, Erin Osborne with her right-arm off-breaks and Jess Jonassen with left-arm orthodox. Australia's batting has been quite brilliant -- packed with power hitters.
Skipper Meg Lanning, who bats at number 3, has the second highest runs in the tournament and the best strike rate among the batters. Arguably the most versatile and prolific batswoman in the game, Lanning has scored the only century in the tournament. She has been well supported by opener Elyse Villani while Alyssa Healy and Perry can change the course of the game with cameos down the order.
Eng won: 12
Aus won: 7