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Australia women seek first T20 series win in nearly three years

Danielle Wyatt smashes the ball away BCCI

Big Picture

If the Ashes-retaining campaign had been "a good starting point" for Australia to stage a turnaround after relinquishing their world titles in both limited-overs formats, captain Meg Lanning's return to international cricket now awaits commemoration in the form of a double series triumph.

A T20 series victory for the first time in nearly three years beckons Australia, soon after their 3-0 ODI series win against India. Barring the eight-wicket loss against England, in Lanning's absence, Australia have looked menacing in their approach and application, with their batting and bowling units syncing perfectly.

Heather Knight's England, on the other hand, would be wary after suffering two successive defeats in as many days ahead of the final. Having razed down both their opponents in their first two games, fielding all their three debutants on tour, they found themselves restricted to 96 in their last encounter against Australia, and yielded to India for 107 on Thursday.

England are likely, therefore, to return to a more tested combination, featuring old hand Jenny Gunn, who became the first cricketer to play 100 T20Is, on March 25.

Form guide

AustraliaWWLWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
England LLWWW

In the spotlight

Much of England's fortunes on Saturday will rest on their most prolific run-getter in this tournament. That it was the same batsman, Danielle Wyatt, who also scripted the side's come-from-behind, points-levelling Ashes campaign in November will not be lost on Australia. Apart from Wyatt's maiden international ton, which trumped Beth Mooney's 70-ball 117 at the Manuka Oval, Australia will do well to also bear in mind her demolition of India six days ago.

To outdo their fiercest rivals a second time this series, Australia will require the sharp-shooting skills of their only bowler to claim a hat-trick, Megan Schutt, who jointly leads the tournament wickets chart with six scalps. With a little aid off the pitch, Schutt's change-ups, especially her cutters, can fox anyone. She will hope to have the support of the left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen, who has been the stingiest bowler - among those who have bowled 14 overs or more - in this tournament.

Team news

Beth Mooney, who missed Australia's last game with a mild abdominal strain, briefly trained in the nets on Friday and is likely to be available for selection. Rachael Haynes, however, missed training due to illness.

Australia (possible): 1 Alyssa Healy (wk), 2 Beth Mooney, 3 Meg Lanning (capt), 4 Ellyse Perry, 5 Elyse Villani, 6 Ashleigh Gardner, 7 Rachael Haynes/Nicola Carey, 8 Delissa Kimmince, 9 Jess Jonassen, 10 Megan Schutt 11 Amanda-Jade Wellington

England quick bowler Anya Shrubsole is out of contention as she continues to recover from a shoulder injury.

England (possible): 1 Danielle Wyatt, 2 Amy Jones (wk), 3 Tammy Beaumont, 4 Natalie Sciver, 5 Heather Knight (capt), 6 Fran Wilson, 7 Jenny Gunn, 8 Alice Davidson-Richards, 9 Natasha Farrant, 10 Danielle Hazell, 11 Sophie Ecclestone/Alex Hartley

Pitch and conditions

The tracks at Brabourne Stadium have been so flat that three of the 10 highest women's T20I totals were amassed over the past week. However, if the same track as the one on which England played back-to-back matches against Australia and India is to be used, the sluggishness of the surface should keep the spinners interested. In that case, a low-scoring contest cannot be ruled out.

Stats and trivia

  • England opener Danielle Wyatt needs 29 runs to surpass her Indian counterpart Smriti Mandhana as the leading run-scorer in the series.

  • Australia's last series victory in T20Is came in August 2015, when they consigned Ireland to a 3-0 clean sweep.

Quotes

"Been a while since we got a T20I series win. If we get over the line tomorrow, the girls will be really pleased about that."
Australia spinner Jess Jonassen

"Two defeats is not ideal but T20 is a very fickle game, it changes very quickly. Looking to turn it around and put in a good performance."
England captain Heather Knight