Analysis

Lanning vs Mlaba, Kapp vs Gardner and other key match-ups at the Women's T20 World Cup final

Here are four head-to-heads which could determine the course of the game

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
25-Feb-2023
Ash Gardner and Meg Lanning will be key for Australia in defending their title  •  Getty Images

Ash Gardner and Meg Lanning will be key for Australia in defending their title  •  Getty Images

Australia and South Africa have played each other only six times in women's T20I - all of them at World Cups. While Australia are in their seventh straight final, hosts South Africa will be making their maiden appearance in one on Sunday. Here are a few key match-ups that could decide the contest.
In three of her four innings in this World Cup, Lanning has found herself in the middle inside the powerplay. South Africa have used left-arm spinner Mlaba often in the powerplay and she has returned three wickets at an economy rate of 5.51. Captains like pitting bowlers who turn the ball away from batters and Lanning's career does hint at the usefulness of such a tactic given the two players who have had the most success against her are New Zealand legspinner Amelia Kerr and India's left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad (four dismissals each). The other bit that makes this match-up is that Mlaba has already taken Lanning out once, in the group stages of the tournament, with her arm ball.
A glance at Kapp's T20I stats shows that offspinners Shashikala Siriwardene, Hayley Matthews, Anisa Mohammed and Stafanie Taylor have all got the better of her at some point or other. In fact, in 17 of the 26 times she has been dismissed by right-arm spin, someone was turning the ball into her. Just like Gardner, who apart from being the second-leading wicket-taker in this competition is also very good at bowling in any phase of a T20 innings. Don't be surprised if Gardner comes on as soon as Kapp comes in.
Wolvaardt has found her rhythm in the last two outings and will be key for South Africa at the top. She is likely to face Schutt inside the powerplay. In the semi-final of the 2020 T20 World Cup, Wolvaardt managed to score seven off the three balls she faced against Schutt while in the group stage in this edition, she struck two fours against the Australian quick in a largely subdued innings. Schutt has picked up three of her nine wickets bowling in the powerplay at this tournament. Team-mates and WBBL champions earlier this year at Adelaide Strikers, these two will know a lot about each other, which just adds more to this face-off
Ismail has breathed fire all through this T20 World Cup. Her three wickets in the powerplay have come at an economy rate of a shade over four. Mooney has hit two half-centuries, apart from scoring a total of 24 runs in the other three innings. Despite being troubled by Marufa Akter in their match against Bangladesh, Mooney takes a liking to high pace. In the WBBL, she hit Ismail for a six and two fours off successive balls during her match-winning 90 for Perth Scorchers against Melbourne Renegades. Sunday will provide a chance for Ismail to set the record straight.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo