THE WEST Indies will be looking to seal top spot in Group B in the ICC Women's World T20 (WT20) when they face second-place England today at the Darren Sammy Stadium, Gros Islet in St Lucia from 4 pm. The West Indies are top of the table with a perfect three wins from three (six points), one ahead of their English counterparts, with the winners of this clash facing Australia, and the losers facing India in the semis on November 22 in Antigua.
Stafanie Taylor's squad marched one step closer to defending their 2016 WT20 trophy with an emphatic 83-run victory over Sri Lanka on Friday night that finally saw the batting come to the fore. Twenty-year-old vice skipper Hayley Matthews struck a blistering 62 from 36 deliveries, with fellow opener Deandra Dottin slamming 49 from 35, as the WI got the second-highest score in the tournament of 187 behind India's 194.
It was the third highest overall in the competition's history and the highest score ever for the maroon in the format.
The English will be very wary of Matthews, who slammed her fourth fifty, and Dottin as both came to form after a quiet tournament, on the heels of Taylor shifting the line-up. Taylor herself is cause for worry as she too got in on the runs with 41 off 25, alongside Jamaican power-hitter Natasha McLean with 17.
With the batting clicking at last, West Indies dismantled Sri Lanka for 104 with Matthews once more showing the all-round depth of the team, scalping three for 16. With Dottin second on the wickets charts with seven behind India's Poonam Yadav (who has eight victims), and a fielding unit that's proving sharp and on target, England have their work cut out for them if they aim to leapfrog the titleholders.
England, the 2009 champs, lost to the West Indies in group stage action in the 2010 and 2014 tournaments, but managed to get a win over them in the last edition two years ago. However, that couldn't derail the Caribbean outfit from winning the trophy.
England haven't been tested so far, chasing just 76 off Bangladesh, 85 off South Africa and having their Sri Lanka clash washed out, but as the second-ranked team in the format, they should provide sturdy opposition.