Date – Thursday, 5th March 2020
Time – 3 pm (Local Time), 9:30 am (IST)
Venue – Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
With the Group stage done and dusted, the action now moves on to the play-offs. We now have the four teams that have qualified to stake a claim on the trophy. From Group A, India has qualified as the top-placed team of the Group, followed by Australia. From Group B, South Africa takes away the honors with England close behind.
Therefore, we have a blockbuster double-header set up with India taking on England in the afternoon followed by the home team facing South Africa in the evening at one of the most popular grounds in the game, the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Road to the Semi-Finals
India – With 4 wins out of 4, India is the only team with the maximum number of points in this tournament with 8 points, bettering the champions and hosts Australia. They started their dream run to the semis with a big win against the home team in the opening game of the tournament, followed by another impressive win against Bangladesh. Their toughest challenge was against New Zealand, against whom they were able to cling on, winning the game by 3 runs even after Amelia Kerr’s late assault. They rounded out their winning streak with another convincing win against Sri Lanka, beating them by 7 wickets with more than 5 overs to spare. That win meant that not only do they have more points compared to the others in the group, they also have the highest net run-rate among the 5 teams of the group.
England – England started out as one of the pre-tournament favorites after hosts Australia, having reached the finals as many as four times, winning only once. Many expected them to top the Group at the end of the league stage. However, they lost their opening game against eventual group-toppers South Africa in a thrilling last-over finish. Since then, they have won every single game, bludgeoning first-timers Thailand by close to 100 runs, and getting comfortable victories against both Pakistan and West Indies. However, with 3 wins out of 4, they finished off in second place, setting up a semi-final clash with in-form India.
India Vs England – Head-To-Head
The Women in Blue have faced England 20 times in this format, dating back to 2006. England is a much stronger team of the two, winning in as many as 15 games. India has managed to win only 4 of these 20 games with one match being called off. Their last meeting was in the tri-nation tournament in Australia just before the World T20. They had played 2 matches against each other with both teams winning one game each.
What is rather interesting to note is that India have met England in World T20 tournaments 5 times – in 2009, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 editions – and England have prevailed in all the 5 occasions. The last time they met at this level was again in the semi-finals in 2018 in which England beat India comprehensively by 8 wickets with just under 3 overs to spare. England bowled out India for just 112 and chased down the target successfully losing just 2 wickets.
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 England. Jemimah Rodrigues and captain Harmanpreet Kaur round out a very good batting core. The middle-order seems to have regained some ground with Deepti Sharma guiding her side to a competitive score against Australia and Veda Krishnamurthy performing against Bangladesh. On the bowling front, India has shown its spin bowling resources with Poonam Yadav leading the wickets column. Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Radha Yadav are also capable spinners and Deepti Sharma is a very good spinner herself. Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar and Arundhati Reddy as the only seam bowling options in the squad.
India is more than likely to retain the same combination that won the last game against Sri Lanka.
Top Fantasy Picks – Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Taniya Bhatia (wicket-keeper), Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Veda Krishnamurthy, Shikha Pandey, Arundhati Reddy, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav
England Squad – Heather Knight (captain), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kathryn Cross, Freya Davies, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Sarah Glenn, Amy Jones (wicket-keeper), Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Lauren Winfield, Fran Wilson, Danielle Wyatt, Mady Villiers
England has a good mix of experience and fresh talent coming into the tournament. Amy Jones, while hitting a rough patch, can lay a solid platform for her side with Danielle Wyatt. Heather Knight and Natalie Sciver are very experienced all-rounders who can guide the middle order through the overs and continue to build from the platform provided by the openers. They also possess some strong hitters such as Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt and Fran Wilson who can provide the finishing touches. Their bowling line-up is built around the pace bowler Anya Shrubsole and the spinner Sophie Ecclestone. Much will depend on them along with the bowling of the all-rounders Heather Knight, Nat Sciver, and Katherine Brunt. Sarah Glenn had a decent outing in this tournament.
England will probably field the same XI that played against West Indies. As the track, again, is expected to favor spinners, Mady Villiers should be keeping her place.
Top Fantasy Picks – Heather Knight (captain), Amy Jones (wicket-keeper), Danielle Wyatt, Natalie Sciver, Fran Wilson, Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Mady Villiers, Sophie Ecclestone, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Glenn
Players to Watch out for
Shafali Verma (India) – Indian opener Shafali Verma is capable of getting fast starts. She is very young and talented and has taken the world by storm with her aggressive batting style and clean hitting. She has already displayed her talent with a couple of hard-hitting performances to accelerate the scoring in the powerplay and putting the opposition bowlers under pressure early. The English bowlers will be looking to take her wicket early if they are to maintain any hold in this match as she can take away the game from them really quickly.
Heather Knight (England) – The charismatic English skipper likes to lead from the front and should be playing a very important role with the bat and ball as she has been playing in the past. She can build long innings, having scored a century and 3 half-centuries. Expect Heather to make a vital contribution while batting and bowling a useful spell for her side and picking up a few wickets. With 72 T20I matches under her belt, her experience will come in handy as England look to work through another tournament as one of the contenders. With her century against Thailand in the last game, she rescued her team from a poor start of 7/2 to lift them to 176 in their 20 overs. She also scored 62 runs from 47 balls against Pakistan.
Natalie Sciver (England) – Alongside her skipper, Natalie Sciver is equally skilled and experienced in guiding her team through the tournament. With her innovative strokeplay, especially the ‘natmeg’, a shot which became famous in the 50-over World Cup in 2017, she is capable of accelerating the scoring in the later stage of the innings in the company of the middle order. She has over 1200 runs including 6 half-centuries in this format and has found her lost form, scoring an important half-century in the game against South Africa and another half-century against Thailand. She also scored in good touch against Pakistan before being dismissed for 36. She has hit half of her eight T20I fifties in her last six innings and is in the form of her life. She is currently the leading run-scorer in the tournament, with 202 runs to her name.
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. In the 2018 Women’s World T20, she stunned New Zealand with a century in 51 balls to prop India to the highest score in World T20 games. She has had a few quiet games, but it is certain that she is due for runs. She promoted herself up the order to spend more time at the crease against Sri Lanka and one can assume that she may again do it against England. She can also roll her arm over to provide another bowling option if required.
Sophie Ecclestone (England) – England’s leading spinner, Sophie Ecclestone has had a great career so far. Having picked up 50 wickets in 34 T20I matches and an average a little over 15 runs, she can be quite effective in taking wickets and drying runs to stall the momentum of the opposition. In the last game against West Indies, she picked up 3 wickets conceding only 7 runs, taking her wickets tally in the tournament to 8. With the Sydney track giving some purchase to spinners, expect some more wickets for her.
Poonam Yadav (India) – If any player has the ability to turn things around for the Indian side, Indian spinner Poonam Yadav can literally turn things around in her side’s favor by turning the ball and instilling panic in the England side. A few quick wickets, including that of Natalie Sciver, can put England under immense pressure. She has already had a great tournament, topping the wickets tally with 9 wickets to her name, with a four-for against Australia and a three-for against Bangladesh. England batters will need to have an answer for her if they want to win this match.
Pitch & Conditions
The match between India and England will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. There has only been a total of 2 Women’s T20I matches being played here, one in 2009 and one in 2016. One match was won by the team batting first and the other by the team batting second. Run-scoring is relatively known to be more difficult here with the pitch lending more assistance to the spinners due to its subcontinental-like nature. However, in the 9 WBBL matches played here, 3 have been won by the team batting first and 5 by the team batting second, with one match ending in a tie. This suggests that teams winning the toss should field first, restrict the opposition to a reasonable score and chase it down.
The temperature is expected to stay between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius, which would not be overly uncomfortable for the players. However, it is expected to rain throughout the duration of the match. Teams winning the toss have an added incentive of fielding first and chasing to take advantage of the DLS calculations. It must be noted with the rain predicted that, in case of abandonment, India will progress to the finals on account of being the higher-placed team among the two teams.
Can India pull off a win to avenge the heartbreaking 2017 50-over World Cup and 2018 World T20 losses? Will England win and progress to another final of the World T20? Or will the rain play the spoil-sport? We can’t wait for this match. Follow us on Twitter for all the updates.