Australia thrashed India by 85 runs to win the ICC Women's World T20 for the fifth time as Megan Schutt was the star with 4/18. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
March 8 is International women's day. It is a day to celebrate women's achievements throughout history and across nations. March 8 will also see a record and fittingly, it is being led by women. The ICC Women's World T20 final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground will see a crowd of over 90,000 witnessing an epic clash between India and Australia. This has been the most talked about clash in the tournament. It is no wonder that the grand occasion is seeing stars like Katy Perry, Billie Jean King and other prominent personalities at the MCG on Sunday. For Harmanpreet Kaur and the Indian cricket team, the journey to the MCG is a fulfillment of a promise whose seeds were sown in 2017 when they reached the final of the ICC Women's World Cup against England in Lord's.
Megan Schutt ends with 4/18 and Australia have bulldozed India by 85 runs to win the ICC Women's World T20 title for the fifth time. What a performance. India did not even reach 100. This is a proper mauling and it is a lesson in how to play the a World Cup final. Take a bow, Australia! Truly champions.
WICKET! One wicket away now. Jess Jonassen floats a flighted delivery on middle and leg stump and Radha Yadav mistimes the lofted shot to be caught at mid on. India 97/9 in the 19th over
WICKET! Megan Schutt is closing the game out in style. Richa Ghosh looks to launch a length ball to deep midwicket but miscues it and the catch is taken easily. After 17.3 overs, India are 96/8.
WICKET! Shikha Pandey looks to muscle a length ball outside off but Beth Mooney runs back and takes a brilliant catch. Megan Schutt takes her second wicket and Australia are moments away from the title.
WICKET! Deepti Sharma falls and Australia are nearing the title. Short ball and she mistimes the pull to long on and departs for 33. After 16.1 overs, India are 88/6
Deepti Sharma is throwing her bat at everything now but it is a bit too late. Gets a four to third man but she is denied a boundary by Jess Jonassen's brilliance. After 14 overs, India are 76/5, needing 109 off 36 balls.
Richa Ghosh lofts Molineux over extra cover for a glorious boundary but the asking rate is close to 17. After 13 overs, India are 67/5.
WICKET! Delissa Kimmince among the wickets now. Length ball outside off and Veda Krishnamurthy mistimes the lofted shot to be caught at mid off where Jess Jonassen times the leap to perfection. After 11.3 overs, India are 58/5.
Another tight over from Nicola Carey. The match is meandering away here. After 11 overs, India are 56/4, needing 129 more to win off 54 balls. For your information, Richa Ghosh will be the concussion substitute for Taniya Bhatia, first time that this is happening in women's cricket.
The lack of power hitting is not there to be seen. Veda Krishnamurthy and Deepti Sharma are unable to get going. After 10 overs, India are 51/4
Veda Krishnamurthy gets a boundary off Delisa Kimmince but the asking rate is approaching 13. After nine overs, India are 46/4.
Only two runs in the seventh over bowled by Sophie Molineux. India are 34/4 after seven overs. This is indeed sad.
WICKET! That should be the killer blow! Jonassen floats the fighted delivery up on middle stump and Harmanpreet mistimes the slog sweep to hole out to Ashleigh Gardner at deep midwicket. After 5.4 overs, India are 30/4
Good over from Delisa Kimmince as only three runs come in the over. After five overs, India are 26/3 and the asking rate is close to 10 runs per over.
WICKET! That is yet another massive blow for India. Mandhana lofts Sophie Molineux to mid off but she does not time it well. She holes out to the fielder and India are 18/3 in the fourth over.
Two fours by Smriti Mandhana gives India something to smile for. Everyone will be hoping something special from Harmanpreet Kaur. After three overs, India are 18/2.
WICKET! Poor stuff from Jemimah as she slogs to mid on and gets caught by Nicola Carey. Taniya Bhatia has retired hurt and this has only compounded India's woes. After two overs, India are 8/2. All hopes on Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur
WICKET! What a start for Australia. The massive wicket of Shafali Verma and it is Megan Schutt. Good length ball angled in outside off, it cuts back in and Shafali Verma is cramped for room as she attempts the cut, she is given out and Shafali does not want to go. India are 2/1 after 0.3 overs
Australia have ended well as they end on 184/4 after 20 overs. India will have to achieve their highest successful chase in their T20 history. Can they do it? All hopes rest of Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma and Harmanpreet Kaur
WICKET! Brilliant from Poonam Yadav and she gets a wicket finally. Rachel Haynes shuffles to the off side and looks to pull it to fine leg but ends up dragging it back onto the stumps. Australia are 176/4 after 18.5 overs.
Mooney continues to bat brilliantly as she reverse paddles Shikha Pandey to the third man fence for a boundary. After 18 overs, Australia are 167/3. Can they reach 190? Shikha Pandey ends with expensive figures of 4-0-52-0
WICKET! Deepti Sharma takes her second wicket as Ashleigh Gardner is stumped by a long way for 2. Australia are 157/3 after 17 overs. Can India restrict them to under 180?
WICKET! That is a much-needed wicket for India. Short and slow ball outside off from Deepti Sharma, Lanning shuffles to the off side but toe-ends the pull to square leg. After 16.2 overs, Australia are 154/2
Beth Mooney gets going with two consecutive boundaries of Radha Yadav as India continue to leak runs. After 16 overs, Australia are 154/1.
Beth Mooney notches up her ninth fifty. Even Poonam Yadav is not having much success today. Superb knock from the left-hander and Australia are 142/1 after 15 overs.
Mooney is carrying on from where Healy left off while Meg Lanning has started off brilliantly. After 14 overs, Australia are 135/1.
Meg Lanning gets going with a boundary off Rajeshwari Gayakwad but India continue to not build the pressure. After 13 overs, Australia are 123/1.
WICKET! Radha Yadav finally breaks the stand and Alyssa Healy's brilliant 75 comes to an end as she holes out to long on. Veda Krishnamurthy takes the catch. Australia are 115/1 after 11.4 overs
Brilliant batting from Alyssa Healy. She is absolutely tearing apart Shikha Pandey. This is an exhibition. Three consecutive sixes, one over long on, another to long off and the third one an inside out cover drive flat over deep extra cover. Australia are 114/0 after 11 overs.
Alyssa Healy notches up her 12th fifty by smashing Radha Yadav straight down the ground for a boundary. On the big stage, a big player does perform and Alyssa Healy is one of them. After 10 overs, Australia are 91/0.
Mooney bludgeons a four to wide long on off Poonam Yadav as Australia continue to make rapid progress. After nine overs, Australia are 79/0.
Alyssa Healy is on fire. She blasts two sixes off Rajeshwari Gayakwad and nears fifty in grand style. Big game, big player steps up to the plate. Take a bow, Healy! Australia are 70/0 after eight overs.
Poonam Yadav is into the attack and she has started well. Average speed is 35 mph. Australia are 54/0 after seven overs.
A much better over from Rajeshwari Gayakwad as she concedes just two runs in the sixth over. Australia have ended the powerplay on 49/0 after six overs.
Poonam Yadav misfields and Mooney gets a boundary to third man. Mooney gives room and drives inside out to extra cover as Australia end the fifth over on 47/0.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad drops Beth Mooney off her own bowling on eight. India are not helping themselves in the field. Australia are 37/0 after four overs.
Healy has already hit six boundaries in her knock as Australia pile on the runs. After three overs, Australia are 32/0 and Deepti Sharma has proven to be expensive, conceding 23 in two overs.
Alyssa Healy continues to find the boundaries as Australia score with more intent. She lofts Shikha Pandey to the long off fence and then clears Shafali over extra cover for a boundary. After two overs, Australia are 23/0.
Action packed first over in the final. Alyssa Healy smashes three boundaries off Deepti Sharma and she is dropped on 9 by Shafali Verma at cover. Australia are 14/0 after the first over.
Apart from this being International Women's Day, this is also Harmanpreet Kaur's birthday. Somewhere in those colossal stands at the MCG, her parents are watching and praying for success. Happy Birthday, Harmanpreet. Indian fans will be hoping that they can get the cup home.
Katey Perry has given a live performance at the MCG and there is an aboriginal dance. The stadium is absolutely packed. Only a matter of time for the action to begin.
The pitch is rock hard and there is a fair covering of grass. This will be the second time India will be chasing in this tournament, having won by seven wickets against Sri Lanka. Can Australia counter the spin threat brilliantly? We are about to find out.
Here are the playing XIs of both the teams
India Women: Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Taniya Bhatia(w), Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur(c), Veda Krishnamurthy, Deepti Sharma, Shikha Pandey, Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad
Australia Women: Alyssa Healy(w), Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning(c), Jess Jonassen, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Nicola Carey, Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham, Delissa Kimmince, Megan Schutt
Australia have chosen to bat against India in the final at the MCG. This is a big toss to win. Scoreboard pressure might play a role but nothing can be said.
Harmanpreet Kaur's team have not played a game for the last eight days and that could play a part. Australia, on the other hand, endured a tough semi-final against South Africa and they will know that they will be facing a tough challenge against India, whom they have lost two consecutive games.
Ellyse Perry will miss the final and that is a massive blow for Australia. The atmosphere at the MCG is absolutely buzzing. Remember, the highest ever attended women's sporting event is 90,185 which was during the 1999 FIFA World Cup final between USA and China at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Shafali Verma and Poonam Yadav have been the stars for India. Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana could get going on the big day while Radha Yadav and Deepti Sharma have contributed at vital times. On the other hand, Australia have big game experience in the final. No wonder they are the four-time champions.
March 8 is International Women's Day. So, firstly, Happy Women's Day to all the billions of women in the world. Today, it is a chance for India women's cricket team to create history. Match 8 can be on the line of June 25, September 16 and April 2 as the golden days when Indian cricket changed totally.