England dealt with Poonam Yadav impeccably two years ago and captain Heather Knight knows a repeat is needed in their ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 semi-final.
Yadav bamboozled hosts Australia in the opening match of this tournament and her wicket-taking exploits haven’t stopped there, leading the charts with nine wickets in four matches.
But the leg-spinner couldn’t cast her spell the last time India met England in the tournament, conceding 29 from her four overs as Knight’s side romped to an eight-wicket victory to reach the Final.
Yadav has since gone on to become India’s leading T20I wicket-taker and her ability to deceive on Australian pitches has forced Knight to take note ahead of their crunch match in Sydney. “We’ve practised for her a lot, I thought we played her outstandingly in the last T20 World Cup and that was due to the preparation we had,” Knight said.
“We don’t have [assistant coach] Ali Maiden anymore, who bowled brilliant leg-spin, but we’ve got a few coaches who have bowled it brilliantly and we’ve been really clear on how we’re going to do things against her.
“She’s a massive threat for them and is an improved bowler since the last World Cup, so for us to be successful, we’re going to have to play her and all their spinners well. That’s going to be key in the game.
“It feels like we’ve built some momentum, we were gutted after the South Africa game and we’ve been playing knockout cricket since game two, that stands us in very good stead going into the knockout stages.
“We’ve started to get some players in real form and the players that aren’t, you feel like they’re just round the corner and can produce in a massive game such as the semi-final.”
With rain forecast for parts of the day in Sydney, a degree of flexibility will likely be required against India – a change in approach Knight is willing to take on.
Tammy Beaumont opened the batting against West Indies but a potential reduction in overs on Thursday could lead to England loading their top-order with big hitters.
Her side are no strangers to battling the elements with Knight keen to press home the importance of being switched on from ball one, with a place in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 Final at stake.
“We’ll have a chat about what our strategy is. We’ll be quite clear about how we want to do things but we’ll have to be flexible,” she added.
“A lot of us have played in rain-reduced games before and it’s all about who switches on the fastest, who adapts very quickly and who ultimately performs in that short space.
“It can be quite manic if it is a rain-reduced game, we’re make sure as a team that we’re quite calm with the way we want to do things. The good thing about our team is that we’ve got a lot of variety, a lot of different skill sets bowling and batting, so we feel like we can adapt to any situation we’re thrown in to.
“You just have to focus on the job you’ve got to do, focus on winning ball by ball and trying to keep really calm, really clear and really simple.”
(With ICC inputs)