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Healy set to return as Australia look to redress 2016 loss

Big Picture

Through its sudden flaring up at the back end of the group stage, the Women's World T20 is now certifiably a blockbuster. We're into the semi-finals: two matches featuring the reigning champions in limited-overs cricket, and their respective runners-up. To start, it's a straight rematch of the 2016 final.

Back then, Australia were the team coming into the final without any losses in the tournament. On Friday, West Indies will be that team, but barely. England gave them a scare and questions about their middle order that they'll be grateful to have had time to think about. While it wasn't as resounding as Australia's 48-run thrashing at the hands of India on Saturday, it was the wake-up call they needed.

Australia will be the better-rested team, heading into this fixture with six days of no cricket and time to re-energise in Guyana, which has been far more pleasant over the course of the tournament than rain-hit St. Lucia, where West Indies played all their games. They had some issues with their top and middle order against India, but will know their strength lies in the pace duo of Ellyse Perry and Megan Schutt. There are many ways to view this contest, and in most of them, the best-case scenario for Australia depends on this question: how quickly can they dismiss Hayley Matthews, Deandra Dottin, and Stafanie Taylor at the top of West Indies' batting? It is a sureshot way of getting on top against this West Indies team, and it might even help quiet down a packed home crowd.

Form guide

West Indies WWWWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Australia LWWWW

In the spotlight

Stafanie Taylor is West Indies' most prolific batsman, but she's not had a great year with the bat. The captain and No. 3 has one fifty in 12 innings in 2018, and has largely been a bowling allrounder in this tournament based on her numbers. She has two ducks in four innings so far, and if West Indies ever needed her to step up, now is the time. They felt severe tremors when Matthews and Taylor fell in the space of three balls against England, and she'll be keen to not only prevent that from happening but to join the openers among the runs.

Alyssa Healy was Player of the Match in the first three matches and could have made a big difference at least to the start of Australia's chase against India if she hadn't suffered a concussion. Word from Australia's camp is that she has been training during the break, which is an encouraging sign. Healy has recently emerged as one of Australia's most consistent batsmen, and has got them off to quick starts routinely over the last two months or so. Should she be back to full fitness, Australia's batting will hinge on whether she can keep her epic run of form going when the stakes are raised even higher.

Team news

West Indies have made a change only once in this tournament, and that was right at the start against Bangladesh, when they brought in Anisa Mohammed for Chinelle Henry. They don't have injury worries and should field the same team as the England game.

West Indies women (possible XI): 1 Hayley Matthews 2 Deandra Dottin 3 Stafanie Taylor (capt) 4 Shemaine Campbelle 5 Natasha McLean 6 Britney Cooper 7 Kycia Knight (wk) 8 Chinelle Henry 9 Afy Fletcher 10 Shakera Selman 11 Shamilia Connell

Healy was in the nets in the lead-up to the game and should walk back into the team. They could also bring Georgia Wareham back in place of Tayla Vlaeminck, who made her debut against India.

Australia women: (possible XI): 1 Beth Mooney 2 Alyssa Healy (wk) 3 Meg Lanning (capt) 4 Ashleigh Gardner 5 Elyse Villani 6 Rachael Haynes 7 Ellyse Perry 8 Sophie Molineux 9 Delissa Kimmince 10 Georgia Wareham 11 Megan Schutt

Pitch and conditions

North Sound hasn't hosted a T20I in five years, but results in other formats in men's cricket suggest it will not be an easy pitch on which to make runs. India failed to chase 190 in a 50-over match last year, and Bangladesh lost a Test by an innings and 219 runs earlier this year.

Stats and trivia

  • West Indies have beaten Australia only once in T20Is - in the final to win the last edition of the World T20

  • Ellyse Perry is three away from 100 wickets in T20Is, and 52 away from 1,000 runs

Quotes

"Five months ago, I'm not sure anyone or a lot of people [in the West Indies] would know about women's cricket, and to see that amount of people coming to the game is elating. I hope that it continues, so not just for tomorrow, but it continues for a longer time."
West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor talks about the support from the home crowd

"It's a really great time to be involved in the women's game. I think it's growing all the time, and this World Cup is really showing that. Yeah, we're excited to be in a really big game, and I think the crowd has been amazing so far, and we're looking forward to them coming and watching the show."
Australia captain Meg Lanning