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The WBBL final will pitch Australia’s captain, Meg Lanning, against her vice-captain Rachael Haynes. The Melbourne Stars, having reached the knockouts for the first time, are up against the Sydney Thunder who are in their first final since the opening edition of the tournament.

The Stars have been the standout team of the tournament, storming their way through the group stage until a couple of defeats at the back-end but they regathered themselves to comprehensively dispatch the Perth Scorchers.

The Thunder were less consistent in the round-robin but have won when it matters, most spectacularly in their semi-final against the Brisbane Heat when they turned around a game that seemed lost – although the players themselves said the belief never wavered.

While both teams have strength throughout their XIs, it might come down to the Stars’ impactful batting verses the Thunder’s varied bowling attack – not that the Stars lack at all in that area, either. Lanning, Elyse Villani and Mignon du Preez have led the way for the Stars, backed up by Nat Sciver and latterly the rapidly developing Annabel Sutherland with crucial cameos from Alana King (who has also been a star with ball in hand).

The Thunder’s attack includes the pace of Shabnim Ismail, the powerplay skills of left-arm spinner Sam Bates, the experience of Sammy-Jo Johnson and, as shown to such great effect in the semi-final, the yorkers of Hannah Darlington.

Above all, though, this tournament has been a huge success to have been played in its entirety given the challenges that it had to overcome. Many players have not found hub life easy – Haynes admitted she “hadn’t enjoyed it” – but they have embraced the new normal and, by and large, the on-field action has been of high quality with established stars standing tall and young names standing out. Hopefully, the final will be a fitting conclusion.

Form guide

Stars WLLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Thunder WWWLW

In the group stage

No result – Only four overs were possible on the wet opening weekend
Melbourne Stars won by eight wickets – du Preez’s half-century led a comfortable chase.

In the spotlight

Games like these are made for Meg Lanning. Her return to the Stars has had the rejuvenating effect on the team that was hoped for. She has led from the front with the bat, scoring runs with her usual effortless style but also showing a level of power not always associated with her game – a sign of the impact of coach Trent Woodhill. She can lean on her experienced players, but also trusts her youngsters as shown by the way she has used Tess Flintoff and Sophie Day in the death overs.

Hannah Darlington was Young Player of the Year last season but has certainly not suffered from any second-year blues. Her 18 wickets, including the Player of the Match performance in the semi-final, have come at 13.61 and an economy rate of 6.44. Despite still being so early in her career, she is an expert at the death with her yorkers. “It’s a nice strength to have, I do go to that ball a lot and it’s one that’s a wicket-taking delivery,” she said. “That’s the key, trying to get batters out and not being too defensive.”

Likely XIs

Melbourne Stars: 1 Elyse Villani, 2 Meg Lanning (capt), 3 Mignon du Preez, 4 Nat Sciver, 5 Annabel Sutherland, 6 Katherine Brunt, 7 Alana King, 8 Erin Osborne, 9 Tess Flintoff, 10 Nicole Faltum (wk), Sophie Day

Sydney Thunder: 1 Tammy Beaumont, 2 Rachel Trenaman, 3 Heather Knight, 4 Rachael Haynes (capt), 5 Phoebe Litchfield, 6 Sammy-Jo Johnson, 7 Tahlia Wilson (wk), 8 Hannah Darlington, 9 Lauren Smith, 10 Shabnim Ismail, 11 Sam Bates

Pitch and conditions

The two semi-finals have not been especially high-scoring, but the ball came on better during the second match on Thursday. North Sydney Oval is renowned as a good batting surface although there has been some turn on offer. It is meant to be a hot day in Sydney leading into a warm evening.

Quotes

“We’ve shown our skills can match up with anyone in this competition. We are looking forward to tomorrow night and it’s anyone’s game. In a final, in a big match, you saw that pressure can make people do funny things.”
Rachael Haynes

“It’s great that we’ve been able to have some success. The last couple of years for them hasn’t been as they would have liked, for now we’ve done a great job to get to where we are coming from bottom to first after the round games. We’ve done a good job so far, it’s been a lot of fun, but we certainly came here to win the tournament.”
Meg Lanning



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England vs India women’s Test 2021 – Harmanpreet Kaur: ‘We may not have much practice, but mentally we’re prepared’ | Cricket

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‘Because of the struggles of past Indian women’s cricketers, we have this opportunity’ – Harmanpreet Kaur


Harmanpreet Kaur believes that a lack of adequate game time in the longest format in the lead-up to India Women’s return to Test cricket after nearly seven years can be offset in some measure by cultivating a positive outlook and heeding advice received from Ajinkya Rahane.

“I’ve played only two red-ball matches [in international cricket]. As a batting group when we have a discussion… this time we got a chance to speak to Rahane as well,” Kaur, the India Test vice-captain, said of her “easy and friendly talk” with her male counterpart in Southampton, where both the Indian teams served a hard quarantine upon arriving in the UK on June 3. “He shared his knowledge with us as to how to approach batting in the longest format and how one should divide their innings into parts.

“We may not have much practice under our belt [going into the Test], but mentally [we are prepared]. We’ve discussed a lot of things so we prepare ourselves well for the match. Even in the nets, we’ve tried to be in a good frame of mind because when you are happy, other than thinking too much about your batting, you tend to play well.”

The women’s team arrived in Bristol on Monday for the one-off Test against hosts England that begins on Wednesday. The opening fixture of a seven-match multi-format assignment, the Test marks India’s first outing in the format since the one-off Test at home against South Africa in November 2014. On the domestic circuit, the last multi-day women’s competition – the Senior Women’s Inter-Zonal Three-Day Game – was held in March-April 2018, in Thiruvananthapuram.

Kaur admitted that inadequate preparedness heading into the tour wasn’t ideal, but welcomed the revival of Test cricket for her team.

“Whatever time we’ve got [since coming out of quarantine], we’ve tried to simulate match scenarios as much as possible and tried to keep ourselves in the best frame of mind,” Kaur said. “We didn’t get much time to prepare, or any practice games. Individually, it’s imperative to adapt to the situation.



“We’ve never tried tinkering too much with Shafali because she is a natural player, and if you try talking too much technique or game planning with her, she can get disturbed because she is only 17″


Harmanpreet Kaur is all for letting Shafali Verma develop her own way



“The surfaces are different to what we get in India. We’ve practised against the swinging ball in the nets. We have a further two days – today and tomorrow – to prepare ourselves better for the match, so I hope we’ll be able to do that well.

“It’s a totally different scenario [to playing with the white ball]. I know we didn’t even get any domestic games with the red ball. In the upcoming season and years we’ll get more red-ball cricket also, which is a very good sign for us.”

As with Tests in the Women’s Ashes, the Bristol Test will feature the use of the Kookaburra red ball (the Dukes ball is usually used in England), with England captain Heather Knight saying last week that “we’re going to be using a Kookaburra in this match because that’s what we’re going to be using in the Ashes and it’s no secret this Test match is a huge part of our preparation going into that Ashes series and that Ashes Test match away from home.”

Kaur said that in the practice sessions India have had so far, the Kookaburra didn’t pose much challenge.

“Dealing with a Kookaburra didn’t feel too different because the ball size and weight is roughly the same [as the white ball we use in limited-overs cricket]. The last time we played [a Test], we felt the red ball was a bit heavier than the white variant, which makes you rely on your timing more. But the Kookaburra white and red ball feels the same; just the colour is different. We felt good playing with it because when you’re in whites and you play with the red ball, it’s a totally different feeling.”

When asked about the likelihood of 17-year-old big-hitter Shafali Verma making her debut on Wednesday, Kaur stressed that it was important for the senior players and the team management to refrain from talking shop too much with the young batter.

“We’ve never tried tinkering too much with Shafali because she is a natural player, and if you try talking too much technique or game planning with her, she can get disturbed because she is only 17 years old,” Kaur said. “To burden her with too many thoughts isn’t the right thing.

“All of us try to create a good environment for her to be able to feel less pressured and be able to enjoy her cricket well. She was looking great in the nets, and I hope if she gets a chance to play she’ll do better.”

As regards Jhulan Goswami, the senior-most bowler in the Indian attack, Kaur was hopeful that the 38-year-old pacer would replicate in this Test the consistency and success that’s been a hallmark of her nearly two-decade-long international career.

“She is someone who always takes the lead whenever we’re on the field,” Kaur said. “She’s always [been] special for us because her quota [of overs] is [important]. She will always give us breakthroughs whenever we need. Not only her but all the bowlers are very important because in Test matches you need breakthroughs, and I think she will be fantastic in this match also.”

The tour of England is also returning head coach Ramesh Powar‘s first assignment since replacing WV Raman in the role last month. Kaur, who is also India’s T20I captain, said her interactions with Powar on the ongoing tour had been no different to those during his first stint in the position which ended with the 2018 T20 World Cup, following a high-profile controversy involving himself, ODI captain Mithali Raj, Kaur, T20I vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, and several members of the now-defunct Committee of Administrators that was overseeing the BCCI.

“My interactions with him have been the same [as before]. He is someone who’s involved in the game all the time and expects the same of the players. Whenever you speak to him, you feel like you’re in a match. He asks you to imagine yourself in a match situation and figure out how you would react to it.

“I get a lot of information speaking to him because he, too, has played a lot of cricket, including T20 cricket. So the experience is the same. Whatever we had done in 2018, we are repeating those things now as well.”

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha


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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.






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Ind vs NZ – WTC winners to take home USD 1.6 million as well as Test Championship mace

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Runners-up to get USD 800,000; the teams will split the prize money in case there isn’t a result

The winners of the India vs New Zealand World Test Championship (WTC) final will take home USD 1.6 million, as well as the Test Championship Mace, while the losing team will get USD 800,000, the ICC has announced. In case there is a stalemate, or weather prevents a winner from being identified despite the reserve day, the two teams will split the total prize money of USD 2.4 million.

It will be the first time the sport will have official world champions in the format. “It (the WTC) has come to symbolise the best team in Test cricket, and with the Test championship now being used as the vehicle to identify the best team in Test cricket, the mace is on offer,” Geoff Allardice, the ICC chief executive, said in an interaction with members of the media.



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India Women in England 2021 – Nat Sciver

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England vice-captain hopes home conditions will help overcome visitors’ mix of experience and bold youth

Nat Sciver, England’s vice-captain, says the team will be wary of “fearless” elements within the India camp when they meet in a Test match for the first time in seven years from Wednesday in Bristol.

Sciver is one of six women in the current England squad who played in their last Test encounter with India at Wormsley, which the tourists won by six wickets. India have also named six players from that match in their current squad along with talented 17-year-old Shafali Verma.

Richa Ghosh, another 17-year-old who was recently added to India’s list of centrally contracted players, is not part of India’s combined Test and ODI group but is in the T20I squad for the multi-format series in which points are awarded across the standalone Test, three ODIs and three T20Is to decide the overall series winner.

“They’re an ever-growing side,” Sciver said. “There’s always a new, young talent on the team who isn’t afraid to go out there and show what they’ve got. They seem to be more fearless than I’ve seen before.

“Couple that with a lot of experience in their team – with Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami – they can be a very difficult side to beat. Hopefully in England, in our conditions, we can hone our skills and make sure that we’re doing the right things.

“Last time we played India, we weren’t very good in that Test match and we didn’t play to our potential so hopefully we can do better this time.”



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