Melbourne is abuzz. The queues ares into Yarra Park. The MCG is no stranger to big crowds, but this feels different.

The magic number is 90,185. For the 22 players on the field for Australia and India their focus is purely on the trophy. But, on international women's day, it is bigger than a single cricket match.


It's lunchtime, still five hours before events at the G begin, and there is no shortage of green and gold shirts in the Melbourne CBD. It's a vibrant place on a weekend, but it is the Labour Day holiday on Monday so plenty of people have an extra day to enjoy the early autumn sunshine.

The MCG stands proudly on the banks of the Yarra river, a short stroll to the one world's most famous sporting precincts.

Walking towards the stadium early in the afternoon, there is already a flavor of what's the come. The fan park is up and running, the merchandise stalls already doing business. And coming out of the stadium you can hear the sound check of Katy Perry. This isn't going to be an ordinary cricket match.


The gates at the famous ground open at 3.00pm. The lines snaking around the perimeter - past the statues of Australian sporting icons which ring the stadium - start to move as fans click briskly through turnstiles. This is no trickle.

The Australians are the first team to begin their warm-ups. So much about the success of this tournament has been pinned on them. It's not without reason that a lot of people were nervous when they were 10 for 3 against Sri Lanka in Perth. Australia knew they had no divine right to be here and they hit plenty of bumps along the way.

And the rain Sydney. How did they dodge that? Some of the players had given it up as a lost cause.

At 5.20pm the coin goes up and lands in Meg Lanning's favour. Cheers go around the ground. Australia will bat first. Runs on the board in a final. "We're as ready as we're ever going to be," Lanning says.

Harmanpreet Kaur, on her birthday and 11 years after her debut, is asked where her mum is in the stand. "Up there," she points. It's the first time she has travelled to watch her daughter play cricket.


And then for something a little different. While Nasser Hussain and Ian Bishop are doing the pitch report a stage is built - almost around the fielding circle - and hundreds of children gather near the boundary as do some life-size cricket bats.

Perry, the Katy version, blasts out two of her best known numbers - Roar and Firework - with more to come later.

The more traditional anthems and team line-ups follow before, finally, the players are in the middle. Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney with bat in hand. Eleven Indians trying to stop them. Millions watching them.


The first ball of the final is a full toss from Deepti Sharma that Healy swings through midwicket. Five balls later there is a dropped catch. Only one side is feeling the nerves.

Healy's sixes get bigger and better. She clears long-on with a shot that would have been six anywhere. Another is lofted over cover with breathtaking brilliance. The crowd is in raptures. Unlike many Australia-India limited-overs contests in this country, it isn't a sea of blue.

Healy walks off to a standing ovation the like no female cricketer will ever have received.

When the second innings starts, the players enter the field through a guard of legends from the women's game. Some, such as Belinda Clark, are central to what has happened here. All of them could probably never have believed there would be a day like this.

Megan Schutt strikes with her third ball, removing her nemesis Shafali Verma, a player who could have given Australia problems in the powerplay.

As a contest the game is up at 30 for 4. As on occasion it was far from over.

In the latter stages of India's innings, a huge Mexican wave goes around the packed ground. "Lap it up, how good is this," Jess Jonassen told her team-mate Sophie Molineux.


The first ball of the 20th over. Schutt bowls to Poonam Yadav, the player who did so much to leave Australia's campaign on a knife edge, and the ball is skied into the leg side. A few seconds later it lands in the hands of Ash Gardner.

Lanning joins Michael Clarke and Lyn Larsen as Australian captains to win World Cups on home soil. The celebrations start in the instant.

"That was unbelievable, thank you everyone," Healy says as she collects the player of the match award. "I never thought we'd get an opportunity like this my whole career. It was something really special."

As Lanning walks up to the stage to collect her medal she lifts her arms in celebration and asks for another roar from the crowd. The emotions are finally coming out.

Meanwhile, the Indian players are seen in conversation with Billy Jean-King. It's more than cricket.


The final crowd is 86,175. The world record hasn't quite gone. It doesn't matter in the slightest. So many records, boundaries and ceilings have been broken during the day and the last couple of weeks.

What happens next is vital for the women's game, but those conversations are for another day. This was a celebration for Australia and a celebration for the game.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo