Date – Friday, 21st February 2020
Time – 7 pm (Local Time), 1:30 pm (IST)
Venue – Sydney Showground Stadium, Sydney
It is time to finally begin the World T20 in Australia. Ten teams will compete with each other to stake a claim to the trophy. The teams are divided into 2 groups, with India being placed in Group A along with hosts Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Group B comprises of England, South Africa, West Indies, Pakistan, and Thailand.
If the recently-concluded tri-series between Australia, India, and England are any indication, this tournament is going to be a cracker. Australia, India, and England are looking equally competent, with Australia having their noses ahead a little bit. New Zealand is going through a rough period of late but they were quite dominant in the T20I leg of their home series against South Africa. South Africa, though, won the ODI series 3-0 before losing the T20I leg 1-3. West Indies gave India a scare in the practice game and Sri Lanka knocks over England quite comfortably, which goes to show that teams beyond Australia and England have been putting up some strong performances and seem to be peaking at the right time. This is definitely going to make this tournament very exciting.
It is only fair that such a tournament has a blockbuster opening. And what better way to start the tournament than to pit the champions and hosts Australia against emerging contenders, India. In the tri-series, Australia was still not playing up to their own expectations losing one game each against India and England and winning the other one but not in the dominant manner as they were winning before. In fact, it was a test of nerves to close out matches, as they had to survive mini-collapses while chasing and having to break partnerships while bowling to prevent their oppositions from winning. In fact, they could have easily lost the finals if they didn’t take those wickets in the middle overs. India, on the other hand, rose beyond their expectations and challenged both the title contenders with a gritty win against England in the opening game before making the highest successful chase against Australia. The opening game of the World T20 promises to be just as intriguing as the result could go on to have an important bearing on which two teams of the group go on to progress to the knock-outs.
Australia Vs India – Head-to-Head
|Tournament||Matches Played||Australia Won||India Won|
|T20 World Cup||3||2||1|
On paper, Australia emerges as strong favorites to win the match having won 13 out of the 18 T20Is that they have played against India. They have also won twice in the World T20 matches in 3 matches. However, India has had a much-improved record against Australia in the matches since 2016. Since then, they have met each other on 9 occasions with Australia winning 5 matches and India winning 4 of them. This just goes to show that although Australia has been quite dominant on paper, they have had some losses against India and they cannot take them lightly.
It must also be noted that when they met last in a World T20 match in 2018 in what was Ellyse Perry’s 100th T20I match, India won the game quite comprehensively with India setting a target of 168 on the back of Smriti Mandhana’s 55-ball 83 and winning by 48 runs to stay undefeated in the competition. If they are in the same positive mindset right now, they can again turn out to be quite a handful for the home team.
Australia – WWLWL
(Based on last 5 completed matches)
What is even more interesting is when we compare the last 5 matches that Australia and India have played against all nations. Essentially, this list covers their tri-series featuring them and England. Australia has won 3 of those 5 matches losing one to India and England each while India has won 2 of their last 5 matches again losing one to Australia and England each before losing to Australia in the finals. However, prior to the series, Australia was dominant against Sri Lanka at home winning 3-0 while India also dominated West Indies 5-0 in their tour of the island nation. This implies that both teams are on an equal footing at the moment.
Australia Squad – Meg Lanning (captain), Rachael Haynes, Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wicket-keeper), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
Australia has got a lot of experience in the squad led ably by their captain, Meg Lanning. She leads from the front with her excellent batting and captaincy skills. She is the first Australian cricketer, male or female, to score 2000 runs in T20Is. Alyssa Healy may be out of form but she had a very good 2019 as she eclipsed her captain’s knock of 133* against England in the Ashes to record the highest individual score (148*) against Sri Lanka. On the way, she completed her century in only 46 balls making it the second-fastest century in Women’s T20Is. If she regains her form, she can make it very difficult for India. Ellyse Perry is an excellent all-rounder having taken the highest number of wickets in T20Is. Beth Mooney is excellent with the bat while Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince and Ashleigh Gardner can be a handful with both bat and ball. In fact, Beth Mooney’s 71 and Jess Jonassen’s five-wicket haul won Australia the title in the recently concluded tri-series. In the bowling department, Megan Schutt is fast, accurate and lethal while Sophie Molineux and Georgia Wareham will have an important role to play as spinners. Annabel Sutherland is also a talented bowler who can contribute with the bat. Tayla Vlaeminck is a very important fast bowler with raw pace to unsettle the opposition as was shown in the tri-series but has picked up a foot injury and is not expected to play today and is possibly out of the tournament.
India Squad – Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Taniya Bhatia (wicket-keeper), Harleen Deol, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Richa Ghosh, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Shikha Pandey, Arundhati Reddy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Shafali Verma, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav
The Indian batting line-up is quite powerful which the Australian women’s team coach Matthew Mott agreed when he claimed that they are ‘the most feared batting line-up’ of the tournament. Smriti Mandhana tends to build a strong foundation for her team while batting while her partner Shafali Verma’s cameos can result in quick runs that can worry Australia, as it did in the tri-series. She can instill the panic in the Australian side if Tayla Vlaeminck sits out as the rest of the Australian bowlers seemed short of answers. Jemimah Rodrigues and captain Harmanpreet Kaur round out a very good batting core. However, the middle order, comprising of Veda Krishnamurthy, Taniya Bhatia, and Deepti Sharma, has not delivered the runs required to boost the score while batting first or finish the match during a chase as was also evident in the tri-series. On the bowling front, India has banked on the spin with Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar and Arundhati Reddy as the only seam bowling options in the squad. Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, and Rajeshwari Gayakwad are the specialist spinners while Deepti Sharma will also be a key spin bowler for the side along with her batting skills. Harleen Deol and Richa Ghosh will be playing in such a tournament for the first time.
Players to Watch out for
• Alyssa Healy (Australia) – Australian wicket-keeper Alyssa Healy has been out of touch recently. She will look to end her series of low scores with a match-winning knock to begin Australia’s defense of the title. Known for her aggressive style of play and fast starts, she can demoralize the opposition’s bowling attack and give her team a head-start. She has the big-match experience of playing in such tournaments to stay positive and bring out her best for this edition.
• Shafali Verma (India) – Indian opener Shafali Verma is the perfect comparison to Alyssa Healy. She is as capable of getting fast starts as Alyssa is. Her range of strokeplay was quite evident in the tri-series and she unsettled all the Australian bowlers. With her presence in the middle, India will look to build a strong foundation and hopefully get some support from the middle order to provide a good finish. She may be short of experience, playing in her first global tournament like the World T20, but she will be looking forward to making a mark in the Indian batting scheme of things for the future.
• Smriti Mandhana (India) – India’s vice-captain and opener Smriti Mandhana will be looking to anchor the Indian innings while batting. She has the potential to score at a brisk rate as was evident in the 2018 World T20 in the West Indies and also as recently as the tri-series. She is also a player who can build long innings and ensure that her side reaches a commanding total. For India to do well, she will have to again play a long innings and provide a strong foundation to the batting.
• Ellyse Perry (Australia) – The veteran all-rounder Ellyse Perry will be the key to Australia’s fortunes in the match. It will be important for her to stay till the end and negotiate the middle and end overs. She can consolidate well in the middle overs through strike rotation and can slog in the end overs to give Australia a strong finish. As she has proved in the past, her bowling spells might also contribute to the ultimate outcome of the match.
• Harmanpreet Kaur (India) – The Indian captain is strong tactically and also leads from the front while batting. She can hit the ball in all areas of the ground while batting and can accelerate the scoring in the latter stages. She has proved time and again that she is a clean striker of the ball and can play the role of a finisher while shepherding the middle and lower order. She can also roll her arm over to provide another bowling option if required.
Pitch & Conditions
The match is being played at the Sydney Showground Stadium, which is yet to host any T20I match. The Women’s Big Bash League was recently played here. A total of 5 matches were played in which teams batting first won twice while the team batting second won thrice. The average score while batting first has been 130 with the highest being 164/3 in 20 overs by Sydney Sixers against Sydney Thunder.
The temperature in Sydney will be a mild 19 degrees to 23 degrees Celsius, with showers predicted in the morning. A cloudy sky is expected. Both will help in assisting bowlers as they look forward to penetrating tough batting line-ups.
We are expecting a cracker of a match to set the stage for the Women’s World T20. Do join us on Female Cricket for all the updates.