Australia meet India in World Cup final, bookended by Katy Perry concert on IWD

By Amy LofthouseBBC Sport in Melbourne
Australia lift the T20 World Cup in 2018
Australia won the T20 World Cup for a fourth time in 2018
Women's T20 World Cup final: India v Australia
Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground Date: Sunday, 8 March Time: 07:00 GMT
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sport website & app; in-play highlights (UK only) & live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Australia will defend their Women's T20 World Cup title against India on Sunday, with organisers aiming to break the record for the biggest crowd at a women's sporting event.

The four-time champions are the heavy favourites going into the final, which is being held on International Women's Day, with India making their maiden appearance.

However, India were the only team to beat Australia in the group stages, claiming a superb 17-run victory on the opening night of the tournament.

More than 75,000 tickets have already been sold for the finale at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The record for a women's sporting event is 90,185, achieved at the football World Cup final between United States and China in Pasadena, California in 1999.

The MCG is one of the most iconic sporting venues in the world and can hold 100,024 people.

The final, which is bookended by a performance from Katy Perry, begins at 07:00 GMT, with commentary available on 5 Live Sports Extra and the BBC Sport website from 06:00 GMT.

"We're not coming just to put on a good show," said Australia captain Meg Lanning. "We're coming here to win.

"It's been a long time coming and the build-up to the game is something I haven't experienced before.

"It will be the biggest moment of my career."

Form guide

Meg Lanning and Harmanpreet Kaur with the T20 World Cup trophy
Meg Lanning and Harmanpreet Kaur will captain the sides in Sunday's final

Australia began the tournament as favourites, having appeared in every final of the competition since 2010.

They have lost the final just once in that time - against an inspired West Indies in 2016 - but they are more experienced in crunch situations than India.

However, it has not been straightforward for Australia. They were undone by India's bowling attack in the first game and they have since lost star all-rounder Ellyse Perry to injury.

Pace bowler Megan Schutt excelled in the semi-final against South Africa, while captain Meg Lanning has been an immovable rock, scoring 116 runs in four innings.

But India are probably the most improved side in women's cricket, with their bowling attack spearheaded by diminutive spinner Poonam Yadav.

They have an explosive opening partnership in 16-year-old Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana, while pace bowler Shikha Pandy returned to form at the start of the tournament.

India have appeared in a global final before, when they lost to England in the 50-over World Cup at Lord's in 2017, but the MCG atmosphere will be a new test for them to deal with.

The record stands in Australia's favour - the hosts have won 13 of their 19 T20 meetings - but India will take heart from their opening night performance.

"Sunday is a fresh day, a fresh start," said India captain Harmanpreet Kaur. "We have to start from ball one.

"We are used to playing when a lot of crowd is around us. Sometimes there's no noise going around in the stadium so we need to keep an eye on each other.

"Rather than thinking about what is going to trouble us, it's only about being there, enjoying the moment and giving our best."

Key players

Poonam Yadav and Beth Mooney split pic
India's Poonam Yadav is the tournament's leading wicket-taker while Mooney is one of only two Australia batters who averages above 30 against India's spinners

Australia opener Beth Mooney has been the bedrock for the hosts so far, scoring 181 runs in five innings, including two half-centuries.

With Alyssa Healy struggling for consistency, Mooney and her patient play will be important for Australia. She is also one of only two batters in the side to average above 30 against India's spinners.

No Australia bowler has taken more T20 wickets against India than Perry's 22. Left-arm spinner Sophie Molineux, recalled in Perry's absence, will have to play a containing role during the middle overs.

For India, it is hard to look beyond Shafali Verma. While the teenager has yet to score a half-century in the tournament, her aggressive strokeplay and the ease with which she hits sixes will be crucial to getting India off to a strong start.

It was leg-spinner Yadav who put the breaks on Australia in the opening match.

Her short stature and extra flight behind the ball makes her tricky to attack, and she enters the match as the tournament's leading wicket-taker with nine from four innings.

Stock image of Kim Cotton
New Zealander Kim Cotton will become the first woman to umpire a World Cup final after being appointed alongside Pakistan's Ahsan Raza

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