Women's T20 WC: A lot riding on the Australia-New Zealand Group A clash
Win, and the semi-final berth is yours. Lose, and it's all over. While New Zealand would like to avoid a heartbreak like the last T20 World Cup edition when they failed to qualify for the semis, a defeat for defending champions Australia would see them miss the knockout stage for the first time in the tournament's history.
The equation in Group A of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020 is really simple. India, having won all four of their league matches, are already through to semi-final 1 and await a clash against the team ending at the second spot in Group B. There is only one more spot up for grabs in Group A.
With both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh having lost all of their three games, they are already out of contention. This leaves Australia and New Zealand vying for the same spot. Both are at four points with two wins and one loss from three matches with Australia edging the White Ferns on net run rate.
The encounter between the two teams at the Junction Oval on Monday will decide who secures a spot in semi-final 2 to be held on Thursday in Sydney. Both teams have not had the best of performances in the tournament till now.
Fatigue setting in for Australia
Australia started off their campaign against India with 17-run defeat but have since come back strongly, with a 5-wicket victory against Sri Lanka and a 86-run thumping over Bangladesh. However, they were reeling at 10-3 at one point while chasing 122 against Sri Lanka. The team has played a lot of cricket over the last one year and there is some fatigue setting in.
"It would be up there (with Australia’s biggest match)," Meg Lanning said ahead of the game. "We’re pretty glad we’re a part of it, we want to play in big games and to be in front of our family and fans, they’ll be here supporting us. We’re looking forward to that opportunity and we want to embrace that. In the past we’re played well in big games and we’re backing our experience and ability to adapt to the situation to get us over the line tomorrow."
What will add to the hosts' woes is that Australia may have to walk out at the Junction Oval on Monday without star all-rounder Ellyse Perry. Perry missed Australia's main training session in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon but captain Meg Lanning has tried to play it down.
The skipper reckons that Perry has "every chance" of recovering in time for the game. Perry injured her hip while diving in the field during Australia's rubber against Bangladesh in Canberra on Thursday.
Black Caps would expect Bates and Devine to fire
New Zealand, on the other hand, have had their own troubles. They started strong with a 7-wicket win over New Zealand, but faltered in the next game against India. The margin of the loss for the White Ferns - a three-run defeat - may seem quite competitive but that was actually not the case.
The team was almost out the game by the 16th over while chasing and had it not been for the 19-ball 34 effort from Amelia Kerr and a good hand from Katey Martin towards the end, the team would have lost by a big margin.
The chinks that were evident in the team's batting against India were exposed in their next game against Bangladesh when the side was bowled out for just 91. It was their bowlers, particularly Leigh Kasperek and Hayley Jensen, who saved them the embarrassment.
"Look we're really excited about that, Sophie Devine said after New Zealand's win against Bangladesh. "Obviously, we wanted to get done with today and get the points in the bank and then it's onto Australia who we've played a lot of cricket with and against and we're really looking forward to it. Any time we come up against Australia, it doesn't matter what sport it is, it's going to be a big one. We're looking forward to having a day off tomorrow and then getting stuck into them."
While the team's bowling has been pretty good, their batting has been struggling. They would expect a few more runs from senior players Sophie Devine, who came good in the first match, and Suzie Bates. The two are the engine room of their batting.
While New Zealand would like to avoid a heartbreak like the last T20 World Cup edition when they failed to qualify for the semis, a defeat for defending champions Australia would see them miss the knockout stage for the first time in the tournament's history.
With both teams being the contenders of the title, a lot is riding on the trans-Tasman clash. Whatever happens, it will end with dismay in one camp and jubilation in the other.
A look at how Group A is shaping up:
India [Played 4: Wins: 4 , Losses: 0 , Points: 8 , Net run rate: 0.98]
Australia [Played: 3 , Wins: 2 , Losses: 1 , Points: 4 , Net run rate: 1.23]
New Zealand [Played: 3 , Wins: 2 , Losses: 1 , Points: 4 , Net run rate: 0.54]
Sri Lanka [Played: 3 , Wins: 0 , Losses 3 , Points: 0 , Net run rate: -1.10]
Bangladesh [Played 3 , Wins: 0 , Losses: 3 , Points: 0 , Net run rate: -2.02]
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