North Sound: India will be looking to erase the memories of a heart-breaking World Cup final defeat last year when they take on England in the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s World T20 on Friday morning.
England beat India by nine runs in an exciting final of the 50-over global meet, a tournament that ushered a new era for women’s cricket in India.
To their credit, the ‘Women in Blue’ have been able to build on that momentum and a fantastic run in the ongoing World T20 is a testimony to that.
India beat two formidable teams in their group—the ‘White Ferns’ from New Zealand by 34 runs and the ‘Southern Stars’ from Australia by 48 runs—maintaining an all-win record at the league stage.
However, England, the reigning ODI world champions, are a quality side in the shortest format and the scars of the summit clash loss at Lord’s can play on the minds of Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur, the two pillars of the women’s side.
Skipper Harmanpreet’s performance will be key to India’s success as she is known to rise to the occasion. The Moga-born cricketer can be safely termed as someone who is a ‘big match’ player.
Even in the current World T20, she has performed in two group league matches—a match-winning century against New Zealand and a quick-fire 43 against Australia --, which proved to be decisive in the final context of the game.
She is currently leading the tournament run-chart with 167 runs from four games at a strike rate of 177 plus. Smriti Mandhana, with 144 runs, is fourth on the list.
Against England, India will have their senior-most player Mithali Raj back in the side after being rested for the final group game against Australia as she was nursing a niggle suffered while fielding against Ireland. She will come back in place of spinner Anuja Patil.
Under new coach Ramesh Powar, India’s strategy of playing a single pacer has worked wonderfully as their spinners have done well throughout the group league stages.
Leg-spinner Poonam Yadav (8 wickets) and left-arm spinner Radha Yadav (7 wickets) have been consistent throughout the tournament.
Off-spinners Deepti Sharma (4 wickets) and Dayalan Hemlatha (5 wickets) have also kept things tight.
Indian seamers Arundhati Reddy (10 overs) and Mansi Joshi (3 overs) have only bowled 13 overs across the four league games.
However, India played all their group league matches at the same venue—Providence in Guyana—and will now play a day/night game at a different venue.
For England, the focus will be more on their seam attack, comprising Anya Shrubsole (7 wickets) and Natalie Sciver (4 wickets). They have been very economical and have kept Bangladesh and South Africa under 100 runs.
However, Dani Wyatt (28 in 3 games) and skipper Heather Knight (31 in three games) haven’t yet been tested save the game against West Indies, where England managed only 115 for 8 batting first and subsequently lost the match by four wickets.
The highest individual aggregate in this tournament is 50 from three games by Amy Jones but the semi-final will be the real test for the two teams.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Mithali Raj, Deepti Sharma, Dayalan Hemalatha, Veda Krishnamurthy, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bisht, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Mansi Joshi, Devika Vaidya, Anuja Patil.
England: Heather Knight (captain), Tammy Beaumont, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farran, Kirstie Gordon, Jenny Gunn, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Linsey Smith, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt....