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Abhishek Purohit in Mumbai
February 12, 2013
The finalists of the 2009 Women's World Cup, England and New Zealand, could have their last chance to qualify for the final of the 2013 edition snatched from them before they step onto the field at Brabourne Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. If West Indies manage to surprise confirmed finalists Australia at the MIG Club ground in the suburb of Bandra in a morning start, the final on Sunday will be between the same sides.
Though England left-arm spinner Holly Colvin said all that was in her side's control was to go out and beat New Zealand under lights, there is no doubt that Charlotte Edwards and Co will be keeping a close eye on developments at MIG Club. The West Indies-Australia game will not be televised, though, and England and New Zealand will have to rely on score updates.
West Indies have not beaten Australia in three previous ODIs, but those matches were back in the 1993, 2005 and 2009 World Cups. If Australia are shocked, and there has been no shortage of shocks in this tournament - courtesy Sri Lanka and West Indies - it will be an unfortunate way for defending champions England to exit.
Apart from Australia, England are the only side who haven't had a bad game in the tournament. Unlike Australia, who are undefeated, England lost twice, but they could have won those matches. Their one-wicket loss to Sri Lanka came off the last ball of the game. Their own last-wicket pair of Colvin and Anya Shrubsole took them within one stroke of ending Australia's streak, only to fall short by two runs.
Edwards' side has showed character by roaring back from both the defeats, something the captain had said after the Sri Lanka match would not be hard for them to do. India were quelled by 32 runs, and West Indies were routed for 101 in a six-wicket win. Then, at the start of the Super Six stage, arrived the shattering defeat to old rivals Australia, as England failed to close the game after dismissing their opponents for 147.
Edwards looked spent after that match. England had been in Mumbai all the while and she said getting away to Cuttack to play South Africa would be helpful. More than a thousand miles away from Mumbai, England bulldozed South Africa, who managed 77.
Twice, England have had to regroup, and twice, they have done it. In 2009, they had hardly been tested on their way to the title. In 2013, the rest of the world has shown it's catching up, and England have shown that champions will withstand blows and come back stronger.
Tomorrow will be a big day personally for Edwards as well. She's 33, the elder statesman of the game with most ODI runs, most ODI appearances and second-most as captain, and this might be her final World Cup. She has made no secret of what a successful defence of the title will mean, calling it a crowning glory in a 17-year long career. If Australia go down to West Indies, it will be a heartbreaking end to Edwards' ambition.
England have lost just three of their previous 15 ODIs to New Zealand, but will go into the game hoping Australia are able to avoid the West Indies banana peel. If they don't, the last Super Six match will cease to be anything more than a practice game for the third-place playoff on Friday.
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