The big match

Australia vs. England preview: a ‘grandstand finale’ to the Women’s Cricket World Cup

Defending champions England face the ‘strong favourites’ in Sunday’s final at Hagley Oval

England are through to Sunday’s final of the 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup after an emphatic 137-run victory over South Africa in the last four. Heather Knight’s team will now face Australia at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand.

After coming into the World Cup as defending champions from 2017, England had a “horror start” to the tournament and were on the brink of elimination, Sky Sports said. Their hopes of retaining the trophy were “hanging by the proverbial thread” after losing their three opening round-robin matches to Australia, West Indies and South Africa. 

Victories in their final four group games meant that England sealed their spot in the semi-finals and against South Africa on Thursday the heroics of Danni Wyatt’s batting (129 off 125 balls) and Sophie Ecclestone’s spin bowling (6-36) made the difference. 

If England are to defend the title they will have to beat their Ashes rivals Australia, who are the “strong favourites” to win on Sunday, the BBC said. The Australians are unbeaten in the World Cup with eight wins from eight matches and “have lost only two of their past 41 one-day internationals”, including their past seven against England. 

It promises to be a “grandstand finale to a superb tournament”, said the BBC’s chief cricket writer Stephan Shemilt. 

Ecclestone: ‘let’s put on a show’

England spin bowler Ecclestone is the leading wicket-taker at the World Cup with 20 dismissals – and against South Africa in the semi-final she achieved her maiden international five-wicket haul. Alex Hartley, a World Cup winner with England in 2017, believes Ecclestone is “so good” that the 22-year-old “could play first-class cricket for a men’s side”. In this World Cup, “I have seen a whole new level from her in terms of mindset”, Hartley wrote in The Telegraph

Ecclestone believes England are yet to play their best cricket in the tournament and she has urged her team-mates to “put on a show”, Sky Sports reported. “Obviously it’s a great feeling getting through to the World Cup final,” she said. “It’s something we’ve been working towards after we lost three games at the start so it’s great to get to the final and hopefully we can put on a show on Sunday.”

Jonassen: ‘It doesn’t get much bigger’

Australia are “relishing the chance to play the old enemy” in the final on Sunday, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported. Batting star Beth Mooney “hat-tipped” England’s effort in reaching the final after their bad start, but warned that the Aussies “do enjoy beating them to be honest – there is a huge rivalry there”. 

“We played them obviously in the first-round game and I think everyone was happy to have a bit of a break from them,” Mooney told AAP. “They fought their way to the final and kudos to them. But not much of what’s happening this tournament matters now because you’ve got to show up at the right time on Sunday.”

Playing in a World Cup final against England “doesn’t get much bigger”, said Australian spin bowler Jess Jonassen. “We know that England will come at us really hard and have some match-winners, but equally so do we. It’s a rivalry that’s entrenched not only in cricket, but also world sport.”

Predictions: who will win the World Cup?

England’s turnaround has been “remarkable”, but Australia have been “head and shoulders above the rest of the world in this format for several years now”, said Malik Ouzia in the London Evening Standard. “They won all three ODIs in convincing fashion during the Ashes this winter and England will have to be pitch-perfect to avoid a similar result here. Australia to win.”

Four predictions have been made for the final by Harshal Singh Surya on Sports Unfold. Batting predictions include Australia’s Alyssa Healy to score more than 35 runs and England’s Danni Wyatt to score the most runs for her team. England bowler Sophie Ecclestone is also tipped to take two or more wickets. The ultimate prediction is for Australia to win the match. 

UK start time and live TV and radio coverage 

England fans will have to set their alarms for the Women’s Cricket World Cup final on Sunday 3 April, which starts at 2am BST.

Sky Sports has announced that it will make the final free to watch across the UK. Viewers can enjoy live coverage from 1am on Sunday on Sky Sports Main Event (401), the Sky Sports Cricket World Cup channel (404), Sky Showcase (106) and the Sky Sports YouTube channel.

For fans tuning in on radio, Test Match Special on BBC Radio 5 live will provide commentary, with the show starting at 1.30am. 

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