The defending champions Australia will face the feisty Indians in the second semi-final of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017. The previous result between the two teams went in favor of the former where they beat India with 8 wickets in hand. The stars of the day were Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning whose unbeaten 124-run partnership for the 3rd wicket lead Australia to a comfortable win in the end.
But this match could be a whole new affair. When it comes to knockouts, no one can judge the ability of the players of handling the pressure. Australia though has higher experience in this field as they have six of these titles to their name. India with a fairly new squad will have to calm their nerves when going against the might of the Kookaburras. Australia’s clinical performance all through the tournament with convincing wins against all the nations and with just one loss, look in a better shape than India on paper. But as stated above, you never know when the pressure can get to you.
There are some factors India needs to look into moving into this game. The worsened form of Smriti Mandhana after the first two matches is the biggest of the lot. Here average after those matches has been below 10. The teams seem to have cracked the code to bowling to Mandhana at the powerplay overs. She needs to work in the nets and has to be much more selective with her shot selection early on to safeguard her wicket until she settles in. Her performance in the match could make or break the deal for India.
India’s middle order showed very poor performance when it came to major matches of the World cup like against South Africa and also Australia. The collapse of 5-6 wickets within 20 runs was seen in each of the matches which seemed to improve during the New Zealand match where Harmanpreet and Krishnamurthy rose up to the occasion of driving India to set a respectable first innings score. A similar kind of form will be expected from the players this time too as Australia is known to put pressure in the middle overs before power play so the batters are compelled to accelerate in the power play which causes the errors.
Australia, on the other hand, has some other issues to deal with. The captain Meg Lanning had been rested after she sustained a shoulder injury in the course of the group stage matches. She was out of the Pakistan game and was also rested for the last South Africa game as a precaution. Her recent form has already troubled India and Australia would be hoping for her presence in the match.
“She is working closely with the physios, the people that need to know (what Lanning’s situation is) know what’s going on,” said Jess Jonassen, Lanning’s compatriot.
Apart from the Lanning issue, India could gain another advantage that is from the Derby ground conditions. India has won all the games played in Derby in this tournament including the warm-up matches. Their defeats same in Bristol and Leicester which are very different and greener than the Derby pitch. India’s dominance over the Derby pitch was shown with their triumph over England in the first match who has reached the finals.
“We have played a lot of the group stage here, four games, so we are aware of the conditions and that is our advantage,” Mithali said in a pre-match talk.