As sporting codes around the world were busying themselves organising contingency plans in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) threat, Australian cricket fans were being encouraged to do the exact opposite.
Just over 86,000 people packed into the MCG to see Alyssa Healy power Australia to their fifth Women’s T20 World Cup victory with an 85-run victory against India.
Several sporting events have already been impacted by the spread of the virus, with Formula 1’s Chinese GP cancelled outright and the Bahrain GP to be raced without any spectators.
NBA teams have been told to have infection plans in place and to prepare to play games without fans in attendance, while tournament officials at Indian Wells have informed players they will be required to handle their own towels, to preserve the health of ballboys and girls.
Such fears were not held by the Victorian government, who were encouraging fans to fill the MCG for the T20 decider.
The final crowd figure of 86,174 was roughly 5000 people shy of the world record for the most spectators at a women’s sporting event.
While not the world record that looked to be on the cards as fans flocked to the ground, the final was nonetheless the most well attended women’s sporting event in Australian history.
Fans and Aussie sporting celebrities were quick to celebrate the massive crowd, ostensibly one of the biggest moments for women’s sport the nation has seen.
The T20 final at the MCG was one of the best things I’ve done with 2x8yr old boys. They left shouting ‘we won the world cup’ to everyone they passed & are still talking about it this morning. Congratulations @AusWomenCricket— Jennifer Kanis (@JenniferKanis) March 8, 2020
86000 at the women's T20 world cup final. Helps with the home team winning but still a phenomenal crowd— aidan o'hara (@oharaa) March 8, 2020
Alyssa Healy the hero as Australia dominate India in T20 final
Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney powered the hosts to 4-184 - the best total in a Twenty20 World Cup final (men's or women's) - after captain Meg Lanning opted to bat first.
Australia's monumental total smashed the previous record of 161 set by the West Indies men's team in the 2016 final against England.
To pull off an unlikely victory, India needed to produce the second-highest successful chase in WT20I history but were bowled out for 99.
Their hopes of an unlikely win coudn't have started much worse with star teen batter Shafali Verma caught by wicketkeeper Healy off Megan Schutt (4-18) in the first over.
A smiling and relaxed Healy made the big stage her own by hitting a 12th WT20I fifty, with her fearless 75 from 39 balls including five long sixes.
Healy's 30-ball fifty was the fastest in a T20 final, by a man or a woman.
But player of the tournament Mooney's composed unbeaten 78 was equally as important as she carried her bat to finish with the highest individual score in a T20 final.