Women's T20 WC: What India's win over Australia foretells about the tournament
India's come-from-behind win over Australia in the opening fixture of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup has thrown the tournament open. It also gives us several crucial clues.
Pressure of chasing can be too tough to handle
In the opening fixture, Australia won the toss and chose to bowl first. It seemed like a pretty reasonable call given that the team backed themselves to chase whatever was put on the board in home conditions.
However, after opener Alyssa Healy broke her streak of poor form to notch up half-century, no other batter could get into double figures apart from Ashleigh Gardner. The pressure of the scoreboard coupled with the expectations of winning the opening encounter in home conditions had a big role to play in this occurrence.
As it is, there is always an added pressure of a world tournament, which becomes manifold in the knockouts. While taking the pitch and the strengths and weaknesses of your own team and the opposition into account still stands, teams will have to give a lot more weightage to putting runs on the board after winning the toss and avoiding undue pressure in the coming matches.
Not all Aussie pitches offer pace and bounce
Talking of the pitch, the surface at the Sydney Showground Stadium resembled nothing like the typical Australian surface. Australia is notorious for its pace and bounce, which is personified by the the Perth wicket. It's another matter that the strip is also not the same anymore.
Getting back to the opening match, there were deliveries which literally died on their way to the batter. In fact, there was a ball towards the end of the match bowled by Indian leggie Poonam Yadav which bounced twice before hitting the pad of Ashleigh Gardner and dislodging the bails. The ball was later adjudged a no-ball as it bounced twice before reaching the popping crease.
Australian skipper Meg Lanning, in the post-match presentation, also talked about the slow nature of the surface and how it was difficult to execute shots, especially square of the wicket.
However, it is also to be noted that pitches at the other stadiums will offer far more pace and bounce. But, that does not overshadow the fact that there is no blanket formula of "Oz pitches = pace and bounce".
Spinners will play a big role
While Australia had three spin options in this game in Molly Strano, Jess Jonassen and Ashleigh Gardner, India went in with their strength, backing the spin of Deepti Sharma, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Poonam Yadav. Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, though she did not bring herself on, is also capable of bowling off spin.
The Women in Blue also picked pacers Shikha Pandey and Arundhati Reddy. While Pandey did a fine job, Reddy struggled her way through her four overs, leaking 33 runs - way above the par economy rate in the match.
It was leggie Pooja Yadav's 4/19 spell which made things happen for India. In fact, the slower the ball was coming from the bowlers' hand, the more difficult was it to strike it. Hence, teams (particularly from the subcontinent) whose strength is in the spin department, should not shy away from sticking to it rather than trying to include as many pacers as they can, in line with the Australian way.
No team is unbeatable
Having won the Women's T20 title four times, defending champions Australia had an aura about them entering into the tournament. It only helped that the World Cup is being held in Australia and the hosts have an added advantage of knowing the conditions better than any other team.
However, their 17-run defeat in the opening match of the tournament, reiterated that there is not that big a gulf between the teams and anyone can beat anyone on their day. A perfect example of this was on display in the warm-up matches when Sri Lanka thrashed England, one of the contenders for the title, by 10 wickets with the English side not even coming close to a win.
All this sets up the tournament perfectly. Happy watching!
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