Saturday, January 28
10.45am local (08.15 GMT)
Unquestionably, the two best teams of the second Women's Big Bash League will compete in the final. The Sydney Sixers, losing finalists last year, topped the pool stages and then drubbed the Hobart Hurricanes by 103 runs at the Gabba on Wednesday. The Perth Scorchers, second in the group stage, also won their semi-final emphatically, by nine wickets against the Brisbane Heat. While the men's competition will have a repeat winner, the Women's BBL, regardless of which team wins, will have brand new champions.
These are two of the strongest squads with the most depth in their line-up. The Sixers have had to contend with the loss of their captain Ellyse Perry through injury, but that did not faze them in their last two matches - which they won by 35 and 103 runs - as the stand-in captain Alyssa Healy came to the fore.
The return of Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk from international duty is a boon, as is the emergence of Ireland's Kim Garth, who suddenly finds herself bowling vital overs. The Sixers will remember their three-wicket defeat in the last over - defending 115 - against cross-town rivals the Sydney Thunder in last year's final. The experience will certainly not harm their younger players this time round.
The Scorchers are pretty handy too, mind. They have a stacked top order and a neat opening bowling partnership in Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole. The Scorchers also have a trio of outstanding youngsters in Piepa Cleary, Emma King and Heather Graham, as well as home advantage, thanks to the success of their male counterparts.
Perth Scorchers WLWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sydney Sixers WWLLW
In the spotlight
Suzie Bates is the leading women's cricketer in the world, but she hasn't - by her own extremely high standards - quite hit the straps with the bat for the Scorchers this season. In the semi-final, however, she came to the middle with the pressure totally off and, soon enough, was smoking the ball everywhere. If Nicole Bolton and Elyse Villani leave their captain with any batting to do, she looks a woman in form.
Bates' opposite number Alyssa Healy has taken to the Sixers' captaincy like a duck to water. In two games (and two emphatic wins), she has scored 161 runs and looked an adept leader tactically. Perhaps not opening with Perry has also helped. Healy normally flies out of the blocks while Perry looks to bat through the innings. In Perry's absence, Healy has perhaps been more sensible with her early strokeplay and has gone big. Still, there's scope for bigger knocks: she fell in the 18th and 13th overs after making 84 and 77 respectively. Scorchers, be warned.
The big news is that Perry is out, obviously. Her team-mate Sara McGlashan limped through her innings at the Gabba but is set to play - Healy laughed it off as "an old lady's injury". The Scorchers are likely to be unchanged.
Scorchers (probable) 1 Elyse Villani, 2 Nicole Bolton, 3 Suzie Bates (capt), 4 Lauren Ebsary, 5 Chloe Piparo, 6 Heather Graham, 7 Katherine Brunt, 8 Piepa Cleary, 9 Anya Shrubsole, 10 Emma King, 11 Emily Smith (wk)
Sixers (probable) 1 Alyssa Healy (capt, wk), 2 Dane van Niekerk, 3 Ashleigh Gardner, 4 Sara McGlashan, 5 Marizanne Kapp, 6 Angela Reakes, 7 Sarah Aley, 8 Kim Garth, 9 Lauren Smith, 10 Emily Leys, 11 Jodie Hicks
Pitch and conditions
The game will be played in the middle of the day, with a high of 38 degrees Celsius forecast. If Tuesday's semi-finals are anything to go by, the pitch could be two-paced.
Stats and trivia
- The Sixers have won three of their four matches against the Scorchers but lost the only one played in western Australia.
- The Scorchers opener Elyse Villani has been involved in three of the six biggest partnerships this season. All were opening stands - two (worth 116 and 92) with Bates and one (97) with Nicole Bolton. Vilani also shared a 67-run partnership with Bolton in the semi-final.
- Medium-pacer Sarah Aley of the Sixers is the top wicket-taker in the overall competition. Last year she was the third-highest wicket-taker with 19 but this year she already has 24, more than any other bowler in the edition.
"We've played them two games already this season and I thought we played pretty well at times but we couldn't quite get across the line. But I think our bowling attack, with Brunt and Shrubsole, is a bit different to the Hurricanes' so hopefully we can keep them to a lower score."
The Scorchers' captain, Suzie Bates
"We've been bowling really well with the new ball and hopefully tomorrow's game will show that, and we can get a couple of early wickets. But that's a big key for them that opening stand or, I guess, that top three, so if we can make early inroads, we'll go a long way to winning the game."
The Sixers' captain, Alyssa Healy
Will Macpherson writes on cricket for the Guardian, ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket. @willis_macp