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ICC Women’s World T20 2018 – Australia v India Preview

Action from the Australia v India World Cup semi Final 2017
©Reuters
 

In November 2017, just a few months after their semi-final exit from the ICC Women’s World Cup, Australia beat England across three formats to win the Women’s Ashes.

In March this year, they beat India 3-0 in an ODI series in India. And in the same month, they beat both teams in a T20I tri-series.

Those wins were a statement: England may be ICC Women’s World Cup winners. India may be finalists. But Australia were the best team in the world.

Things have not changed much in the ICC Women’s World T20 2018. Players, opposition captains and commentators have all identified Australia as the hot favourites to win the title in the West Indies. And their three resounding wins have reaffirmed those credentials: They started with a 54-run drubbing of Pakistan, a nine-wicket annihilation of Ireland and then topped it off with a 33-run win over New Zealand to seal a spot in the semi-finals. And while this makes their Group B clash on Saturday with India –who have also qualified with three wins- inconsequential, there is still a lot to play for.

“Yeah, look, there's a little bit of revenge there, I won't lie,” said Alyssa Healy in March after Australia’s 3-0 ODI series win against India. “They've got a really exciting group of players and they showed that at the World Cup… so for us to come out and play the way we did, play aggressively and put it back on them, I think the group is really proud of that.”

Since India were the team to knock Australia out of the tournament, there will be after-images of those matches in the minds of all players, and those watching, in their first face-off in an ICC event since then.

Historically, India have a poor record against Australia in both formats. They have won only nine ODIs (out of 46) and three T20Is (out of 14) against them. It has taken superlative efforts from individual players to beat the all-round brilliance of the Aussies. India’s first win in T20Is came in 2012, on the back of a superb five-wicket haul from Jhulan Goswami. And their latest ODI win featured that Harmanpreet Kaur innings.

So they will look to find something special against a team that has multiple match-winners, even though Healy is currently hogging the spotlight with three consecutive Player of the Match awards. Captain Meg Lanning has looked in fine touch against Pakistan and is always dangerous, even if she bats lower down the order. And Megan Schutt, the top bowler in the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Player Rankings, has said how much she enjoys bowling at the Guyana National Stadium, where she gets grip for her cutters. She also has a T20I hat-trick this year, against India, so there is much to be wary, and perhaps worry about for India.

That said, India have timed what little joy they have had well. Their other two T20I wins both came in 2016 when they won the first two of three T20Is in Australia to claim a first ever series win against them (in any format), and the first one on Australian soil. Setting up the series win was a well-timed knock of 46 off 31 balls from Harmanpreet Kaur in the first T20I. That saw India achieve what was then a record chase of 141, just as her 171 not out took them to a barrier-breaking win last year.

 

Harmanpreet has shown her big-match temperament with a six-studded century in the tournament opener against New Zealand, so hers will certainly be the big wicket on Saturday. Also on Australia’s radar will be Smriti Mandhana, who is hungry for a big score in the tournament and has done well against the Aussies this year: In five matches across both formats, she has scored 201 runs off 165 balls faced. So as the tournament settles into its second weekend, it promises a clash worth bringing out the popcorn for even before the knock-out stages arrive.

 

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