India will take on defending champions Australia in the semi-final of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup on Thursday at the Newlands in Cape Town. The last time India played Australia in a T20 World Cup match was in the final of the 2020 edition at the Melbourne Cricket Ground where the hosts won by 85 runs to clinch their record-extending fifth title.
In 10 games against the Aussies since that final, India have won just one, Australia clinched eight and one ended without a result. Overall, Australia lead the head-to-head with 22 wins in 30 matches. Still, more recently, India have come closer than any other team to really being competitive against Australia.
Australia’s only international defeat in 2022 came against India in a dramatic Super Over in December. Also, in the Commonwealth Games final, India had the upper hand for a large part of the match before losing by nine runs.
We take a look at areas where India can hurt Australia and what Harmanpreet Kaur’s side needs to do to beat their mighty opponents.
Harmanpreet Kaur must find form
One of the biggest wins for India in women’s cricket, and against Australia, came in the semi-finals of the 2017 ODI World Cup when Harmanpreet went ballistic and scored 171 not out off 115 balls. That innings eliminated favourites Austalia from the tournament and allowed India to play the final at Lord’s, the famous game that allegedly led to the transformation of women’s cricket in the country. The captain, however, has been in poor form recently with scores of 6, 33, 4 and 13 in the T20 World Cup.
With Jemimah Rodrigues failing to seal the No 3 spot, Harmanpreet decided to bat up the order against Ireland but could only score 13 off 20. Despite the failure, Harmanpreet is expected to bat again at No 3 against Australia and for India to score a big total, which would definitely be required in a game against Australia, Harmanpreet has to fire as she did in 2017.
Smriti Mandhana needs to continue good form
The all-conquering Australia are so good that you can’t beat them with just few aspects going right. You need to be near perfect and even that may not be enough. Smriti Mandhana scored a career-best 87 against Ireland, in a game that India won by 5 runs (DLS) and qualified for the semi-finals. Even in the December win against Australia, Mandhana had scored a fifty. Along with Mandhana, the top order must fire collectively to produce the kind of batting performance one requires to beat Australia.
No 5 Richa Ghosh has been India’s best batter at the World Cup and that cannot be the case in the semi-final.
Spin a web around Aussie batters
With India returning to Newlands for the semis, it’s highly likely that third-choice pacer Shikha Pandey will make way for left-arm tweaker Radha Yadav given the help the Cape Town surfaces provide to spinners. But Indian spinners have been largely poor this tournament. The only Indian bowler to feature in the top-10 wicket-takers in the tournament is pacer Renuka Singh with seven scalps.
The first Indian spinner on the wicket-takers list is Deepti Sharma in the 19th spot with five wickets from four games. She has an economy rate of close to eight. Radha has two wickets in three games and Rajeshwari Gayakwad has had none in four.
The lack of control to the proceedings from the spinners has put India in a spot but against Australia, a repeat of the status quo would prove to be a disaster.
Reduce the dot-ball count, play perfect cricket
If you were looking for some profound tips that would help India beat Australia, you are sure to be disappointed. Australia have very few weaknesses as the team is loaded with explosive batters, world-class all-rounders, terrific pacers and spinners. They are a well-rounded side that has multiple match-winners. So, the only option India have is to hope an individual clicks, like Harmanpreet in 2017, or play the perfect cricket possible.
For that, India will have to first address their worrying dot-ball count. In their 11-run defeat to England, only loss in the group stage, India batted through 51 dot balls (8.5 overs), which went down to 41 (6.5 overs) in the next game against Ireland. But it’s clearly a sign that India are still to crack the T20 code despite improving their scoring rate.
There’s no easy way to beat Australia. Play your best cricket and hope for the cricketing gods to be kind to you. Hopefully, that will be the case for India on Thursday.
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