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Ellyse Perry on track for World Cup final

The game’s best player is on track to play in the sport’s biggest occasion, with Ellyse Perry set to avoid a second World Cup final heartbreak and line up in Sunday’s showpiece against England.

However, Australia’s star allrounder will play as a specialist batter in Christchurch, where Australia are attempting to reclaim the trophy against holders England.

Perry has missed Australia’s last two matches in New Zealand after suffering back spasms while bowling in a group-stage win over South Africa 12 days ago.

She failed a fitness test to play in the semi-final against West Indies, raising fears she would fall victim to a similar fate from two years ago when a hamstring injury denied Perry the chance to play the T20 World Cup final on home soil.

This time around, Perry’s luck appears to have turned.

Captain Meg Lanning reported Perry had come through a crunch fitness test on Friday, and the only barrier now is how she recovers from a lighter runout on Saturday.

“Ellyse got through a pretty hard and high-intensity session yesterday and she’s trained again today and is feeling pretty good,” Lanning said.

“It’ll just depend on how she pulls up this afternoon … at this stage, it’s looking pretty good.

“We feel like we’ll have a full squad to pick from.”

Perry’s ailment has denied her the chance to bowl in the nets, meaning Saturday’s selection meeting will focus on her ability to produce with the bat alone.

With a batting average of 50.02 in the one-day format, Lanning said she wouldn’t hesitate in picking the 31-year-old solely as a batter.

“She can definitely play as a specialist bat and that’s probably the most likely scenario,” she said.

“She hasn’t bowled for a couple of weeks now and it would be difficult for her to come out and bowl in a final if she hadn’t done that.”

Perry was named as the best female cricketer of the last decade by the ICC.

Australian selectors will make a final decision on Saturday afternoon rather than leave it to the morning of the final so that players can prepare.

Perry’s likely selection means Annabel Sutherland looms as the unlucky Australian to miss out.

The 20-year-old Victorian has played six times this tournament, taking three wickets at 38.66 and batting twice for 48 runs without being dismissed.

It will also mean Lanning will have six bowlers at her disposal rather than her preferred seven.

“Six is certainly enough,” Lanning insisted.

“Seven is a bit of a luxury just in case you need to go to different options.

“Throughout the tournament there’s been times when someone hasn’t bowled at all.

“We’ve got six very good bowlers who we take into this game and full confidence that they’ll be able to do the job.”

Australia, the world No.1s, are strong favourites to take the trophy from England, who won the tournament on home soil in 2017.

Australia are on a seven-match ODI winning streak over England and have won eight straight in New Zealand.

England were on the brink of elimination after losing their opening three matches, turning it around to reach the final.

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