Australia eye fifth T20 world title in front of huge crowd

MELBOURNE (AFP) – Australian captain Meg Lanning said her team are “pumped” for their defence of the women’s Twenty20 World Cup against India today with hopes high that more than 90,000 fans will cram the cavernous Melbourne Cricket Ground.

They go into the final as favourites, courtesy of being the sport’s dominant side, winning four of the six tournaments so far, in contrast to Harmanpreet Kaur’s India, who are in their first decider.

But with large numbers of Indian fans expected in the 100,000-capacity arena, there will be little in the way of home advantage.

Organisers have set their sights on beating the official world attendance record for a women’s sporting fixture today, to coincide with International Women’s Day. That was set at the 1999 football World Cup final, when 90,185 watched the United States (US) beat China at the Rose Bowl in California.

While widely accepted as the benchmark, an estimated 110,000 are said to have attended the Mexico-Denmark women’s World Cup Championships final in 1971, but it was not a sanctioned event.

Pop superstar Katy Perry, who this week revealed she is pregnant, has been recruited to help get punters through the turnstiles, performing before and after the game.

As of Friday, more than 75,000 tickets had been sold for a match that marks the culmination of a 17-day, 10-team, tournament that has proved both entertaining and competitive.

“It seems like it has sort of fallen into place a little bit, and Sunday is going to be massive,” said Lanning ahead of Australia playing their sixth successive final.