Fifteen months after the thriller on the hallowed turf of Lord’s, here we are – it’s India vs England in a ICC women’s world event once again. This time, it’s in the semi-final of the first ever standalone ICC Women’s World T20, at Sir Vivian Richards stadium in Antigua. In a constant upward curve for the women’s game, this is another inflection point. An entertaining tournament is now at the business end.
India will face England on Thursday evening in Antigua as the lights take full effect, in a repeat of the 2017 final between the two. England won that tournament after a tumultuous year, while India narrowly missed a first world title.
India have the chance to script history by reaching the final of the tournament for the first time ever.
India v England head-to-head in T20Is
|Overall||13||England won: 10, India won: 3|
|In 2018||2||England won: 1, India won: 1|
|In Women's World T20s||4||England won: 4, India won: 0|
England were unchallenged and their middle-order undercooked going into their last group match, but that changed as they were beaten in a thriller by the Windies.
England spinners v Harmanpreet Kaur
The ODI world champions, like most teams in this tournament, have bet heavily on their spinners and the challenge now for Heather Knight’s side will be to replicate that at a different venue, against opposition who play spin well.
And no one does it to more devastating effect than Captain Kaur. Harmanpreet has already smashed 12 sixes in the tournament, way ahead of anyone else. And a vast majority of those have come against opposition spinners as New Zealand and Australia came to bear the brunt.
For England, spin is not the main weapon. Sophie Ecclestone will lead the pack and Knight has spoken about using different combinations to test India, with Dani Hazell finally getting a game against Windies. The off-spinner picked up a couple of wickets in a losing cause against India in March and could provide Knight with a dependable option.
But if Kaur has her way and finds her range, no one in world cricket can be spared. England’s best hope of ensuring a win would be to make sure she doesn’t get going, especially against the spinners.
Anya Shrubsole v Smriti Mandhana
While spinners have carried bulk of the load, it has been their pace bowlers who have won them critical moments in the group games, in conducive conditions in Saint Lucia, Anya Shrubsole’s hat-trick against South Africa being the highlight.
England still rely heavily on Nat Sciver and Shrubsole to deliver the goods with the new ball, especially in the absence of Katherine Brunt. On the other hand, Powerplay scoring has been one of India’s problem areas. It is here that Mandhana’s contribution becomes crucial. Against England’s most dependable bowling weapons, Mandhana has the responsibility of not just scoring quick but also to protect her wicket while doing so given her importance to India’s scoring rate at the top.
Tammy Beaumont / Danni Wyatt v India’s spinners
This might well be the battle that decides the outcome of the match (if Kaur / Mandhana don’t play a once-in-a-lifetime innings, that is). India’s bowling has been blowing hot and cold in this tournament despite what the results would tell you. From Suzie Bates in the first match of the tournament to Ellyse Perry in a lost cause, opponents have shown that this Indian spin attack can be taken for runs if the shot selection is right. With the key to India’s spin attack being a lack of pace, Bates showed how to exploit areas behind square on leg, while Perry showed the value of staying back in the crease and using the bottom-hand.
Beaumont and Wyatt are more than capable of taking the attack to the Indian bowlers. Wyatt showed it with a devastating 124 in Mumbai earlier this year.
Beaumont has made 425 runs in her last 13 innings at an average 35.41, while Wyatt has made 365 runs at an average 28.07 in that same period. But they have combined for a total of 77 runs in three innings each between them in what has been a low scoring tournament for England so far. For the world champions to progress further, both of them would have to fire – and they are both match-winners when they get going.
India’s fielders v England fielders
One of the standout features of India’s big win against Australia was the electrifying display of the Indian fielders that stifled the deep Southern Stars batting lineup. It was a far cry from the shambolic performance against Pakistan that saw the Indians put down sitters after sitters. The fielding was one area that Harmanpreet was visibly proud of after the final group-stage match against Meg Lanning and Co.
England, on the other hand, are traditionally a brilliant fielding side, but looked a bit out of sorts against West Indies in their final group game. Captain Knight and coach Mark Robinson touched upon the need to avoid dropped catches that could cost them games like it did against West Indies and also spoke about the challenges of catching in windy conditions under lights.
Mark our words, the better fielding unit on the night will have a marked advantage in this marquee clash.
- India have won eight T20Is in a row now (excluding one abandoned game in between) – this is the team’s best ever winning streak in the shortest format for women.
- Ten of the 13 T20I matches played out between England and India have been won by England (three defeats for India); the last meeting saw India claim an eight-wicket victory however (29th March 2018).
- England have won all four times they’ve met India in the ICC Women’s World T20 competition; successfully chasing down India’s score in all four of those matches.
- This is the first time these two sides are meeting outside the Asian subcontinent or England in a T20I.
- India have the opportunity to reach an ICC Women’s World T20 final for the first time; they tasted defeat both times they previously got to the semi-final stage (2009 and 2010).
- The highest T20I score ever posted by an England player came against India earlier this year – Danni Wyatt’s 124 off 64 balls (25th March 2018).
- Smriti Mandhana is set to record her 50th T20I innings with the bat during this match; she claimed her highest ever T20I score last time out against Australia (83).
- Harmanpreet Kaur has already hit 12 sixes in the tournament, the most in a single edition of a women’s World T20.
With ICC inputs