Aussie plan to squash India’s diminutive giantkiller
AUSTRALIA called on local spinning stocks 24 hours out from the World Cup final in a bid to thwart the Indian weapon who stands between the home team and glory.
Leg-spinner Poonam Yadav rocked the Aussies in the tournament's opening match, taking 4/19, and finished the pool matches with a haul of 9/88.
Her efforts were sparked by a dressing down from skipper Harmanpreet Kaur after Yadav was smacked for a six in her opening over against the Aussies. Yadav took a wicket the ball after the blast, and her slow spin caused so much mayhem Australian officials recruited local tweakers to bowl in the MCG nets.
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Being able to deal with the nerves caused by playing in front of an expected crowd in excess of 80,000, and Yadav, has required precise preparation and Australian skipper Meg Lanning is confident her team will come armed to combat both in what looms as the biggest match of their lives.
"We are in a different spot than we were heading in to the first game," she said. "We are well prepared for what it will throw at us.
"We all have to play slightly differently to last time … we have different personnel. But we also have to play better than what we did. We have some good plans in place, now it's about executing.
"It hasn't been an easy road to the final but I wouldn't have it any other way. We are match and battle-hardened. All our wins have been cutthroat and must-win clashes - and they have all been close.
"We have had to deal with that pressure and stand up under the pump. We have one more game to go. I feel like we are as ready as we can be."
Lanning said selection changes were "on the table", but they seem unlikely. Annabel Sutherland and Erin Burns, who hasn't played a game, are the only available players outside the team which defeated South Africa in the semi-final.
"We're thinking about a few different options," Lanning said. "We'll see what the wicket throws at us, but all options are on the table at the moment."
The skipper believes her side has been building to its best, which could come out on the biggest cricketing stage Lanning has stepped foot on.
She said whoever handled the occasion best could determine who lifts the trophy.
"We haven't played our best game of cricket yet, that's still out there somewhere," she said. "We've shown we are able to cope and be really calm under pressure and that's what's going to be needed.
"In finals you don't need to go above and beyond what's already presented. It's just about producing that again.
"Early in the game, when there are going to be a lot of nerves flying around, that's the most important time, and the team which settles the quickest will have the best chance."