By Wisden India staff in Mirpur
England Women pacer Anya Shrubsole feels Australia Women, the defending champion, will start as the favourite in Sunday’s final
Mignon du Preez, the captain, chose to draw positives from the experience in Bangladesh instead of nitpicking. "We were definitely the underdogs and considering that, we’ve done exceptionally well," she said. "We showed a lot of character, so I’m really proud of this team. We proved teams from the lower order are definitely coming up the ranks. To make it to the top four of this tournament has given us a lot of confidence and hopefully this will open a lot of doors and is a start of something big in women’s cricket back home."
South Africa, perhaps, exceeded its own expectations in getting this far. The side finished last in the group in the 2012 edition and managed to qualify for the 2014 tournament on the back of a win in the qualifiers against Pakistan.
But du Preez believed there was no reason for her vanquished team to feel ashamed. "We can draw a lot of inspiration from West Indies," she said. "They have come a long way over the past two years. The spirit with which they play their cricket, the fact that they play without the fear of failure is something we can emulate too. We have also now adopted their motto of 'moving in faith'. On the whole, we can be proud of ourselves. It was amazing just to be a part of this tournament and to play in front of a television audience was special for us."
As a disappointed du Preez walked out of the press conference area, an elated Anya Shrubsole, the England medium pacer, settled into her chair with a smile plastered on her face. Her twin strikes upfront triggered South Africa’s slide as it eventually ended with a paltry 101. Shrubsole, the leading wicket-taker in the competition with 12 scalps in five matches, has conceded less than four runs an over in each of her five matches in the tournament and has a jaw-dropping average of 5.75.
"I think the ball has swung more here due to the humidity," explained Shrubsole when asked about the two identical dismissals, where the ball swung back prodigiously to get past the batter's defence. "But I guess keeping it simple is what I was trying to do. On slow wickets such as these, it’s important to be more accurate than experiment. I tried to bowl outswingers early on in my career, but then realised it’s best to do what comes naturally to you. So, from there on, I’ve just concentrated on bringing the ball back in and it’s worked."
On Sunday now, the old England-Australia rivalry will be revived as the two teams face off in the final. "I’d say they go in as favourites especially as they are defending champions as well," said Shrubsole. "Both of us are evenly matched, we’ve played a hell of a lot of cricket against each other, and we know each other inside out. There are no questions of surprises, just a matter of which team turns up on the day and plays better."