Team India go into the Women's T20 World Cup having lost the Tri-Series final to Australia. The final did not go as per plan, but India will be hoping to put that loss to bed.
Having won the toss, Australia elected to bat first and it did not take long for opener Beth Mooney to hit top form in the match and make a mark in the final. She ended up scoring 71 runs in 54 deliveries, her innings including nine 4s. Ashleigh Gardner and skipper Meg Lanning played valuable knocks in the middle, both adding 26 runs to the board. Ellyse Perry could not get going as Rajeshwari Gaikwad got her dismissed. Gaikwad bagged two scalps in the game, so did Deepti Sharma as Australia ended their innings with 155 runs on the board.
In response, Smriti Mandhana got off to a
great start. Unfortunately, Smriti could not find anyone to anchor the innings
from the other end as wickets kept falling at regular intervals. Only Richa
Ghosh, captain Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma, and Taniya Bhatia could get on
to double figures. Smriti ended her innings at 66 that came off just 37
deliveries at a strike rate of 178.32. She was Megan Schutt’s only dismissal in
the game. Jess Jonassen was on fire and ended up winning the man of the match
award for her spell – 5/12 in 4 overs, restricting India to 144, 11 runs short
of the required target.
Players to look out for in the T20 World Cup:
Smriti has been on terrific form lately and
in the Tri-Series T20 tournament, she got better with every game she played.
She started off with 15 from 10 against England in the first match. 35 from 23
followed next against Australia. In the next match against England, she hit
stride once again, scoring 45 runs from 40 balls. She finally got to her first
half-century in the tournament in the next match against Australia, scoring 55
from 48. In the final, she was the lone warrior for the women in blue with 66
runs in 37 balls. She finished as top scorer in the tournament with 216 runs
from 5 innings.
The Indian skipper is an important presence in the middle order and has plenty of experience in her bag. Despite not having the innings she would’ve loved in the Tri-Series, she showed patience and timing and would like to convert those starts into bigger scores. She can also chip in with the ball.
Rajeshwari has been the best bowler for the side in the tournament and her performance in the Tri-Series would give her plenty of confidence going into the big showdown at the T20 World Cup. She has picked up wickets consistently and her bowling has been disciplined and precise. She took a three-wicket haul against England and also bagged two victims in the final. Gaikwad finished as the highest wicket-taker with 10 victims to her name.
Statistics building up to the T20 World Cup:
1. While the top four batswomen for India (Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur) scored at a strike rate of 120 in the tournament comprising of the two best teams in the world, which is an increase from their combined strike rate in 2019 – 115.
2. The middle-order continues to show worrying signs, especially in the T20 format. A strike rate of 85 in the middle order, where things need to be dealt quick and explosively is not befitting of T20s and this issue need to be dealt with.
3. Harmanpreet Kaur hasn’t been her best
version in a long time. The last time she crossed 50s was in the game where she
scored a ton against New Zealand in the T20 World Cup in 2018. Since then, her
cumulative strike rate has taken a dip, going effectively from 135+ in February
2018 to 115 in February 2020. This, combined with the underperforming middle
order presents a clear void in India’s batting outfit.
Before the main event kicks off, India Women are expected to play two warm-up games. Their opening match is against Pakistan Women on 16th February while they will play the second of the two warm-up games against West Indies Women on 18th February.
Both matches begin at 9:30 AM IST.
Schedule for the group stage:
India will begin the T20 World Cup against defending champions – Australia Women. Harmanpreet Kaur and co will have revenge on their minds when the two sides meet when the tournament kicks off on 21st February. The match will begin at 1:30 PM IST.
The next match will be against neighbors- Bangladesh Women on 24th February. The game is expected to start at 4:30 PM IST.
India Women will then take on New Zealand
Women on 27th February at the Junction Oval. The match will begin
from 9:30 on the morning of Indian Standard Time.
The final group stage game will be against Sri Lanka Women on the final day of February. That match is expected to begin from 9:30 AM IST as well.