There’s been a lot of debate about how India will go into the World Cup, but it’s the nation’s bench strength rather than their playing XI that is prompting these uncertain questions.
Australia are women’s World Twenty20 champions again after they romped to an eight-wicket victory over England in the final in Antigua.
Desperate to regain the title they lost two years ago, Australia dominated their opponents with young spinners Ashleigh Gardner and Georgia Wareham helping bowl out England for just 105.
Gardner then combined with captain Meg Lanning to steer Australia to their target with 29 balls to spare.
Notably emotional after Australia’s 2016 loss to the West Indies, Lanning was unbreakable as she provided her best knock of the tournament with 28 not out from 30 balls.
Gardner was just as impressive with bat as she was ball, finishing unbeaten on 33 from 26 in a 62-run third-wicket partnership with Lanning, her innings included three massive sixes down the ground.
The tournament’s best player Alyssa Healy had her lowest score of the competition with 22, but her 20-ball knock got Australia going as she pulled Anya Shrubsole for three boundaries in the second over.
The title is Australia’s fourth, after they were crowned champions in 2010, 2012 and 2014 – the latter of the two victories both over England.
Ellyse Perry became just the second player and first Australian to reach 100 Twenty20 international wickets when she trapped in-form allrounder Nat Sciver lbw for just one.
“This has been a long 24 months of working really hard and putting together an awesome plan,” Perry said.
“So to have it come off tonight was awesome.
“It’s been a pleasure watching Midge (Healy) bat throughout the tournament, but everyone has contributed.”
While Australia’s household names claimed the headline moments, it was their exciting next generation of talent that set up the win early.
Offspinner Gardner (3-22) claimed the key wickets of England captain Heather Knight (25 from 28) and top-scorer Danielle Wyatt (43 from 37), both caught on the drive after they were beaten by extra bounce.
Teenage legspinner Wareham was just as impressive, her two wickets coming in succession in a miserly three-over spell while she pulled off a crucial direct hit run out to remove the in-form Amy Jones for just four.
It was a rare piece of good fielding for the Aussies, who dropped Wyatt three times in her innings and missed a chance to run out Knight early in her innings.
But it mattered little in the end, as Megan Schutt also claimed two scalps to help dismiss England inside the 20 overs and put Australia on the course to victory and some much needed good news for the sport back home.