Australia vs West Indies: Will Stafanie Taylor’s side halt Australian juggernaut?

West Indies (L) Australia (R) © Getty Images

Australia are all geared up to take on West Indies in the 14th match of the ongoing World Cup at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Tuesday (March 15). Meg Lanning’s side have lived up to the their favourites tag so far. They were slightly tested against England in the first game as they won the thriller by 12 runs.

But since then they have been clinical as they trounced Pakistan by seven wickets and the hosts by 141 runs. Just like the Aussies, Stafanie Taylor’s side had the best possible start to their campaign. They defeated the hosts New Zealand in the tournament opener by a whisker and the defending champions England in their second game in the same manner. But then they lost the momentum after a 155-run rout against India.

What’s at stake

The game at Basin Reserve has a lot to play for. For Australia, it’s an opportunity to consolidate their ascendancy at the top of the ladder. With a net run rate of 1.626, they are comfortably placed at the top. A win will bring them within touching distance of a semi-final berth. For Windies, it is a chance to bring themselves back amongst the top-four on the ladder – a spot they lost after the humiliating rout they suffered at the hands of India.

Australia by far have looked the only side that has all their bases covered. And most importantly they have an endless list of people who put their hands up and bailed the team out of crisis. Against the White Ferns when the team looked in doldrums at 113/4, it was the duo of Ellyse Perry and Tahlia McGrath that weathered the storm. They put up a 101-run partnership and propelled the team to a good total.

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There is not only clarity regarding role distribution in the Aussie dressing room but there is also a sense of calm. And that is because the players who are playing in the XI know how to execute their roles come what may. Ashleigh Gardner defined it perfectly in the last game; after missing the first two games due to COVID-19, Gardner made a comeback in Australia’s third match.

And just did what is always expected of her. She hammered New Zealand bowlers to all parts of the park and not only provided Australia with the final flourish. But also shifted the momentum completely in her side’s favour. Her quick-fire cameo saw her score 48 runs in just 18 deliveries at a mesmerizing strike rate of 266.66.

Their bowling attack is arguably one of the best on view if not the best and the last game was a testimony to that. Pace bowler Darcie Brown was in her elements right from the word go as she got rid of Amelia Kerr and Suzie Bates in quick successions. She bowled a beautiful outswinger to dismiss Kerr and bowled a short delivery that got big on Bates and ended her vigil at the crease.

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If you take a look at the list of the top wicket-takers in the tournament, the first Australian bowler that appears on it is leg spinner Alana King. She currently occupies the tenth spot with five scalps to her credit. With all due respect to her ability, she is not the one who is the most feared of the bunch. But that’s what sums up the ability of the Aussies to operate as a unit. The six-time champions, in true terms, are hunting in pairs and getting the job done.

On the other hand, West Indies have to regroup and put the nightmarish loss of the last game away. Taylor has not been able to score the kind of runs that would have set her up really well both as a batter and as the leader of the pack. She got off to a good start against the hosts in the first game but wasn’t able to make it count and got out for 30 runs. The last two games have been worse for her as she bagged a duck against England and scored one in the India match.

It’s been a Hayley Matthews’ show more or less for the Windies so far but that’s also a matter of concern for them. With 207 runs and an average of 69.00, Matthews is the highest run-getter in the tournament and the next West Indian batter on the list is Dottin at 18. Similarly, with five wickets, Matthews is also in the top-ten bowling charts and only Anisa Mohammed is ahead of her with six wickets. The rest of the group needs to take up more responsibility and deliver as soon as possible before the situation becomes more grim for them.

The overall record in ODIs between the two sides is highly lopsided in favour of the six-time champions. And it will take something extraordinary for the team from the Caribbean to cause yet another upset and possibly the biggest in the tournament thus far.

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What they said:

“Well, we have a game tomorrow. So to move on pretty  quickly –  outings, we play travel, practice play. So it’s not a lot of times aside and worry about what was going on. We just have to be positive on the rest. Yes, it was a very disappointing game for us. But we still have four more games in the competition to play as far as group stage is concerned. So we have to focus on that and play one game at a time. You know, we played the number two team and they outdid us very, very well.  We play the number one team tomorrow and we just have to look forward to our execution and our game plan,”

– Courtney Walsh on the loss against India and playing Australia.

“Yeah, I mean, I felt like I was in pretty good control with the ball. I don’t usually feel like that sometimes. But yeah, it was probably up there with how I felt with you know, control and rhythm and I guess pace so yeah, it was good to do that against a pretty good side like New Zealand,”

– Darcie Brown on her impressive spell against New Zealand.

Players to watch out for:

Ellyse Perry: The number one allrounder in the ICC ODI rankings, Perry showed in the last game that why she is rated so highly in the international circuit. She rescued Australia when the New Zealand bowlers were on top and were dictating terms. Her ODI record suggests that she has a liking for the West Indian attack. In ten games, she has amassed 507 runs at an overwhelmingly impressive average of 169.00, including four half centuries and a century. She has also been phenomenal with the ball as she has dismissed 20 West Indian batters at a mind-blowing average of 13.90.

Although, she hasn’t had much to do with the ball, her experience in the domain is exemplary and was on show in the last match. After being driven down the ground for a boundary by Sophie Devine, Perry astutely went wide of the crease to angle the ball into her and disturbed the woodwork.

Hayley Matthews: Hayley Matthews has arguably been their best player in the tournament and hence you would expect her to perform tomorrow as well. With 207 runs in the tournament – Matthews, the batter is sitting at the apex position in the points table. She has also provided the side with crucial breakthroughs as and when needed and is shouldering a lot of workload. Although, she will be up against the six-time champions, with the way she has been performing it won’t be surprising if she leads the charge for her side again.

Numbers: 

Head to head: Played 13 matches, Australia 12 – 1 West Indies

Predicted XI:

Australia: Alyssa Healy (wk), Rachael Haynes, Meg Lanning (c), Ellyse Perry, Beth Mooney, Tahlia McGrath, Ashleigh Gardner, Alana King, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Megan Schutt, Darcie Brown

West Indies: Deandra Dottin, Hayley Matthews, Kycia Knight, Stafanie Taylor (c), Shemaine Campbelle (wk), Chedean Nation, Chinelle Henry, Aaliyah Alleyne, Shamilia Connell, Anisa Mohammed, Shakera Selman