On paper, five-time champions Australia are a step or two ahead of India going into Thursday’s semi-final of the Women’s T20 World Cup at Newlands in Cape Town. Even in terms of performance so far in this World Cup, the Australians have been better than their Indian counterparts in most departments.
Australia won all their four group games to qualify for the semi-finals. While India won against Pakistan, the West Indies and Ireland to make the last-four stage, they lost to England — the only quality side in their group.
But all said and done, this is a semi-final clash where both teams need to start afresh.
The Indians certainly wouldn’t ask for anything better if the law of averages catches up with Australia. But Harmanpreet Kaur and her teammates first need to ensure they get their basics right and minimise the errors as much as possible.
India, though, seem confident of shocking the favourites. “We can beat Australia. It’s not that we can’t beat them.
“We did beat them in the last (T20I) series in India and we did it before as well. Yes, they are a strong team, but we can hurt them. We have worked out their weak spots and plan to cash in on them,” wicketkeeper-batter Richa Ghosh said on match-eve.
Ghosh is correct in her analysis, but the Indians must make sure they don’t get flustered during pressure situations and critical phases of the game. It wasn’t too long ago when they capitulated in a tight situation against the Australians in the Commonwealth Games final last year. And in the 2020 World Cup final, Australia won by a big margin (85 runs).
Captain Meg Lanning, however, ruled out Australia having any psychological edge over India. “Both teams start at the same level. What has happened in the past doesn’t make a difference,” she said.
Too many dot balls have been a reason for worry in the Indian camp, while the team also needs the likes of opener Shafali Verma and skipper Harmanpreet to make meaningful contributions with the bat to reduce the load on Smriti Mandhana.