Date – Thursday, 5th March 2020
Time – 7 pm (Local Time), 1:30 pm (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
South Africa – South Africa has had a remarkable campaign so far. They have won 3 of their 4 group games are the table-toppers of the group, pipping pre-tournament favorites England. In fact, they kicked off their campaign with a sensational win against England in a thrilling last-over finish. They have never looked back since, creating a record of the highest total in a World T20 match (195/3) against Thailand before bowling them out and winning by over 100 runs. They also had a good game against Pakistan, beating them by 17 runs before rain prevented their encounter against West Indies and earned them a point, which lifted them to the top of the table. With them finishing first in the group, they now face hosts Australia for a place in the finals.
Australia – The tournament hosts, Australia, did not have as good a tournament as they would have liked to have. They were defeated in the opening game against eventual group-toppers India. Against Sri Lanka, they were also in trouble, losing their first 3 wickets with just 10 runs on the board, chasing 122, but Meg Lanning and Rachel Haynes combined to chase the target. Alyssa Healy had a good game against Bangladesh in a comprehensive win by close to 90 runs. They finished off beating New Zealand in what was essentially a knock-out game for them. With contributions from a number of players across the tournament, they suddenly look a much better side.
South Africa Vs Australia – Head-To-Head
South Africa and Australia do not face each other too often. They have faced each other in only 4 T20Is so far, all of them in the World T20 – in 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2016. Australia has won in all the 4 games. In the last meeting between the two sides, in the 2016 World T20, South Africa was restricted to 102 in their allocated 20 overs and Australia won by 6 wickets with 9 balls to spare. Considering that Australia has a great record against South Africa, and their team members are slowly finding their feet, one should expect Australia to again beat South Africa should the match take place.
South Africa Squad – Dane van Niekerk (captain), Chloe Tryon, Trisha Chetty, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Nadine de Klerk, Lizelle Lee, Suné Luus, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Mignon du Preez, Tumi Sekhukhune, Nondumiso Shangase, Laura Wolvaardt
The South African side has an experienced group of core players who will be expected to make heavy contributions throughout the tournament. Lizelle Lee is a hard-hitting batter and can take on the bowling early in the innings. Dane van Niekerk is a reliable all-rounder along with Marizanne Kapp, Mignon du Preez, and Sune Luus. Shabnim Ismail will be expected to lead a relatively inexperienced bowling unit consisting of Tumi Sekhukhune, Masabata Klaas, Ayabonga Khaka, Nondumiso Shangase, and Nonkululeko Mlaba. The all-rounders will also be contributing quite heavily with the ball.
South Africa has no injury concerns at the moment and will look at fielding the same XI that played in the last completed game against Pakistan.
Likely XI – Dane van Niekerk (captain), Chloe Tryon, Trisha Chetty (wicket-keeper), Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Lizelle Lee, Suné Luus, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Mignon du Preez, Laura Wolvaardt
Australia Squad – Alyssa Healy (wicket-keeper), Beth Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner, Meg Lanning (captain), Rachael Haynes, Ellyse Perry, Annabel Sutherland, Jess Jonassen, Nicola Carey, Georgia Wareham, Megan Schutt, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Erin Burns, Molly Strano
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 was out of form but seems to have rediscovered her touch with a superb performance against Bangladesh. 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. Molly Strano replaced Tayla Vlaeminck when an injury forced Tayla out of the tournament.
Australia was dealt a big blow when Ellyse Perry had injured her hamstrings and ruled out of the semis. Although no replacements were named by the Board, Sophie Molineux is likely to replace her for the semis.
Likely XI – Meg Lanning (captain), Alyssa Healy (wicket-keeper), Beth Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachel Haynes, Jess Jonassen, Nicola Carey, Sophie Molineux, Megan Schutt, Georgia Wareham, Annabel Sutherland
Players to Watch out for
Alyssa Healy (Australia) – Australian wicket-keeper Alyssa Healy has been out of touch recently but had a great outing against Bangladesh, scoring a 53-ball 83. 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 also 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. She has the big-match experience of playing in such tournaments to stay positive and bring out her best for this edition.
Beth Mooney (Australia) – Beth Mooney has been an important player in the Australian side in limited-overs cricket. Representing Australia in 50 T20I matches, she has scored 1346 runs at an average of over 36 runs. What is more remarkable is that she has as many as 2 centuries and 8 half-centuries in this format. She is in very good form at the moment, scoring an unbeaten 81 against Bangladesh and an important 60 against New Zealand in the last game.
Dan van Niekerk (South Africa) – Dan van Niekerk is a very capable middle-order batter and will be looking to anchor the innings should the openers fail. She has played 79 T20Is scoring 1776 runs with as many as 10 half-centuries. She has also picked up 59 wickets, showing that she is an effective bowler as well, to add to her batting skills. She is quite an important player in the side, as evidenced by her contribution against England, picking up 2 wickets and scoring 46 runs off 51 balls to guide South Africa to victory.
Lizelle Lee (South Africa) – South Africa’s hard-hitting opener will set the tone for her side while batting. Having scored 1500+ runs with as many as 11 half-centuries and a strike rate of over a run-a-ball, she will look to score rapidly looking forward to building a strong foundation for her team. Her contribution will help South Africa in building the score further with the help of their experienced all-rounders. She was due for runs and ended up scoring a blistering century against Thailand which helped her rediscover her lost form.
Shabnim Ismail (South Africa) – Shabnim Ismail is South Africa’s leading bowler. She has played 91 T20Is for her country in which she has picked up 99 wickets at an average of under 19 runs. She has also claimed a 5-wicket haul once. She has 5 dismissals in the tournament so far. She will be looking to take her 100th wicket in this game along with a couple more which would help South Africa feature in the final of this tournament for the very first time. She can find some helpful swing in these conditions which could make her a lethal bowler.
Megan Schutt (Australia) – Megan Schutt is Australia’s leading pace bowler. Her express pace can rattle opponents. She has played in 65 T20Is in which she has picked up 83 wickets at an average of under 16 runs. She has picked up 7 wickets in the tournament, including 2 three-for in the last two games – against Bangladesh and New Zealand. She is aware of these conditions and should be able to derive a lot of swing from this pitch, which has been undercover and the weather, which will aid swing.
Pitch & Conditions
The match between South Africa and Australia 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, South Africa will progress to the finals on account of being the higher-placed team among the two teams.
Will South Africa be able to take advantage of Ellyse Perry missing out on this match and beat Australia? Will Australia emerge victoriously and play in the finals at their home ground? Or will the rain play the spoil-sport and take South Africa through to their first World T20 finals? We can’t wait for this match. Follow us on Twitter for all the updates.