By Prarthana Mitra
After suffering a heart-breaking loss at their hands in the World Cup final last year, India is gearing up to face England in the semifinals of the ICC Women’s World T20 on Friday. As the women in blue are looking to reset and settle the score with the English team, they are also setting themselves up to face their most daunting opponent in the tournament so far.
Having missed the world title by just nine runs in the 50 overs-World Cup final, June 2017, the Indian team is more confident after a strong run in the World T20 this year and expected to avenge the humiliating loss at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Friday.
The squad led by Harmanpreet Kaur has maintained a straight record in the league stage, beating the formidable New Zealand by 34 runs and Australia by 48 runs over the last week. Registering wins in all their matches so far, India has come out at the top of their group and set up high expectations for themselves, as the tournament enters a more competitive leg.
Relying on skipper Kaur’s performance in their run to the semifinal, the team will continue to bank on her and bowlers like leg-spinner Poonam Yadav (8 wickets) and left-arm spinner Radha Yadav (7 wickets) to keep England’s batting order in check. Kaur, who maintains a lead in the tournament run-chart with 167 runs over 4 games, scored a century against New Zealand and is proving to be a “big match player”. Smriti Mandhana, with 144 runs, is fourth on the list, while Mithali Raj, who led the team in the World Cup last year, is another strong pillar for the women’s side.
England with a formidable ODI side will focus on their seam attack, according to experts. Anya Shrubsole (7 wickets) and Natalie Sciver (4 wickets) have been instrumental in maintaining the economy in England’s matches against Bangladesh and South Africa. In both matches, bowlers kept the opponents kept under pressure and their score below 100 runs.
Having placed all their group league matches at the Providence stadium in Guyana, the change in venue might prove to be a challenge for India, but the team is confident of making their way to the final.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius