A family 1st for India’s Kaur at Women’s T20 World Cup final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — India captain Harmanpreet Kaur will have some added incentive in Sunday’s Women’s Twenty20 World Cup final against Australia: her mother will be in the stands at the Melbourne Cricket Ground watching her live for the first time in her decade-long career.

Her father, Harmander Singh Bhullar, who has not watched her since her school days, will also be alongside his wife in the MCG crowd.

Kaur has starred for India in an international career that has included more than 200 internationals since her debut in 2009. But the India captain, who will also celebrate her 31st birthday Sunday, has always played without her parents watching her live.

They traveled to the Sydney Cricket Ground for Thursday’s washed-out semifinal against England and should finally be able to watch Kaur bat in Sunday’s decider at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where officials are hoping for a record crowd for a women’s sporting event on International Women’s Day.

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Mostly sunny conditions are in the forecast.

“They wanted to watch (the semifinal) but unfortunately they didn’t get to,” Kaur said. “It’s the first time they were going to watch me playing cricket because my dad did when I was in school. But my mother (Satinda) never watched me play cricket. And she was there.”

“It means a lot because from day one I wanted them to watch me playing cricket and today I got this opportunity,” she said. “We are hoping that we should get it because everybody’s looking very positive about women’s cricket at this moment.”

There will also be some family moments on the Australian side: fast bowler Mitchell Starc has left the tour of South Africa early so he can watch his wife Alyssa Healy play for Australia.

Starc left South Africa before the third and final one-day international on Saturday. Australia has already lost the series, trailing 2-0 with one game to play.

“It’s a once in a lifetime chance for Mitch to watch Alyssa in a home World Cup final and so we were happy to allow him to return home to support his wife and be part of a fantastic occasion,” Australia coach Justin Langer said.

Healy, a wicketkeeper and opening batter, is a key member of the Australia team, which is the defending champion and has won four of the six women’s T20 World Cups. She is also the niece of former Australia test wicketkeeper Ian Healy.

The Aussies, who will be playing the final without injured star Elysse Perry, sustained their only loss of their World Cup campaign in the tournament opener against India.

MCG officials said 75,000 tickets had been sold as of Friday. The previous record for a women’s sporting event was the 90,185 that attended the 1999 women’s soccer World Cup final between the U.S. and China at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.

Singer Katy Perry is scheduled to perform on Sunday at the final, and Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said he hopes that might put them over the top for a world record.

“We are, obviously, really hopeful,” Roberts said. “If we were to end up with 85,000 cricket fans and another 10,000 Katy Perry fans, that would be a fantastic result.”

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