Australia Women will be confident of defending their World Twenty20 crown despite the convincing manner of England’s nine-wicket semi-final win over South Africa, says Isa Guha.
Charlotte Edwards’ side set up a repeat of the 2012 final by chasing down South Africa’s 101 all out with 19 balls remaining, seamer Anya Shrubsole taking the Player of the Match plaudits for figures of 2-12 off four overs.
Australia booked their place in Sunday’s showdown – which you can watch on Sky Sports 2 from 9am – on Thursday with an eight-run win over the West Indies and Guha said they won’t be quaking in their boots at the prospect of facing England, who won this winter’s Ashes series despite losing two of the three Twenty20 internationals.
“Australia have seen a lot of England in the last year so and I’m sure they would have been impressed by that performance but at the same time they’ve played some equally good cricket,” said the former England seamer.
“They’ve posted some really big totals and in their own semi-final they looked very impressive out in the middle and looked good under pressure as well.
“They’ll be feeling very confident that they can go out there and win against England. I think it will be an excellent final.
“Perhaps the only worry for England is the fact that the middle-order haven’t spent too much time in the middle and when they have got in they’ve struggled to get scores.
“But these girls have played so much international cricket now that they should be prepared and they know the Australian bowlers really well, so they should feel comfortable out there.”
England’s middle-order wasn’t required as skipper Edwards (36 off 40 balls) and Sarah Taylor (44no) put on 67 for the first wicket, before Heather Knight helped to polish off the chase by striking 21no off 16 deliveries.
The victory was set up, though, by a disciplined bowling display led by Shrubsole and some accurate throwing – and poor running – that resulted in five South African run outs.
“It was a fairly clinical and comprehensive victory for England in the end – very professional, starting with Anya Shrubsole at the top,” said Guha.
“Danni Hazell kept it tight at the other end, Rebecca Grundy looked really, really impressive and showed lots of aggression, and they were backed up by other bowlers such as Jenny Gunn and Natalie Sciver at the end.
“With the bat in hand, Charlotte Edwards did a great job alongside Sarah Taylor. I think number three is a good position for Heather Knight – she is very cool and calm in those types of situations; she’s got a good temperament behind her and is one of England’s best players.”
England seamer Katherine Brunt – ruled out of the tournament after undergoing back surgery – was delighted to see Shrubsole, the leading wicket-taker in the competition, pick up the Player of the Match award and said the continuing good form of the team is in keeping with the ECB’s commitment to place the players onto full-time contracts.
“It’s a lovely start to a new era – the girls are obviously really enjoying their cricket out there,” said Brunt, who took 3-6 in the final of the 2009 tournament.
“It’s a really hard environment – there is not much fun to be had outside of the games and it is hard to stay focused – but they are putting in some really professional performances; people are standing up and being counted.
“They are being consistent throughout and that’s the key – not only having a really good environment but having your key players perform consistently and do well.
“Shrubsole has bowled superbly well – she’s moved the ball perfectly, going through the gate. She’s in some superb form and I hope she continues this right through to the final.”
England spinner Holly Colvin, currently taking a break from the game, added: “Late movement is something that Anya has been working on in the last few years.
“She has such a fantastic seam position and it’s not just big inswing, it’s big and going late which is very hard to play.
“You want your best players putting in really strong performances. Charlotte led from the front again and Sarah is a world-class player – she always steps up to the plate when it’s a crucial match.
“She plays shots all around the ground and showed innovation with some of the paddle laps and the one-legged shots. She’s a good player – she just needs to make sure that she’s consistent for the final.”
Watch England Women take on Australia Women in the ICC Women's World Twenty20 Finals from 9am on Sky Sports 2 on Sunday.