The first team to secure a semi-final berth, India have been on an unbeaten streak at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 even without their big guns firing with the bat. The team will look to iron out their flaws when they take on Sri Lanka in their final Group A game in Melbourne.
The Indians are on a roll, having easily sealed their semi-final berth with wins over defending champions Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand. The Lankans, on the other hand have arguably had the toughest start to the tournament, losing to New Zealand and Australia in their opening two games and are out of the race.
However, captain Harmanpreet Kaur insists that they are not taking the fixture lightly. The match will be important to India in the practice it proved before the knockout stages and the batting unit will look to make the most of it.
India beat hosts Australia by 17 runs in the tournament opener. They defeated Bangladesh by 18 runs before eking out a narrow four-run victory over the White Ferns. But in all the previous three outings, India failed to put on big scores on the board, with just 132 runs against Australia, 142 against Bangladesh and 133 vs New Zealand.
India’s unpredictable middle-order has repeatedly squandered good starts. In all the three matches, the bowling unit bailed the side out.
The biggest concern for the team will be the indifferent form of the captain Harmanpreet, who could only manage single-digit scores in all three matches so far. The right-hander is one of the most destructive batters in world cricket and her big-hitting will be crucial to India’s chances in the knock-out stages. The game against Sri Lanka will give her a chance to spend some time in the middle and get crucial runs under her belt.
Opener Smriti Mandhana too has failed to join the party so far, having missed one match due to viral illness. Jemimah Rodrigues in two matches and Taniya Bhatia against New Zealand have contributed viral runs at No 3, but the middle order is still shaky with no consistent performer.
At present, the team is heavily reliant on 16-year-old Shafali Verma and the opener has delivered with two back-to-back player of the match performances. She has registered scores of 29, 39 and 46 for a total of 114 from three games and is the leading Indian run-getter. However, she will need back-up from the senior pros to be able to convert her good starts into something bigger.
The Indian bowling, however, has been phenomenal and played a vital role in their smooth entry into the last-four round.
Leg-spinner Poonam Yadav has been the star performer for India, picking up eight wickets so far, including match-winning effort of 4 for 19 against Australia. She has been complimented well by the likes of Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Deepti Sharma and more recently Radha Yadav.
In the last match, India went in with for spinners and just the one pacer in veteran Shikha Pandey. The ploy seemed to work against high-flying New Zealand and will be stuck to in all probability.
The fielding has been good in patches and is an area that can always be improved on.
Sri Lanka, although win-less, are not without standout performers of their own. They gave Australia an almighty scare in their opener reducing the hosts to 10/3, and against New Zealand as well, they had a good start with a 60-run first wicket partnership.
The hard-hitting Chamari Athapaththu will be the big wicket to get while Shashikala Siriwardena – who will retire from all formats of the game at the end of the tournament after 17 years – can be a canny operator with the ball as well.
In the last edition of the tournament, India had similarly cruised into the last four with wins over Australia and New Zealand but had combusted in the semi-final against England. To guard against a similar situation time time, India will look to make the most of the conditions against Sri Lanka.
The match starts at 9.30 AM IST