India, Australia face off in inconsequential game

Considered title contenders, both India and Australia stormed into the semifinals of the showpiece with a game to spare.

Indian players during a practice session at the ongoing T20 World Cup.   -  ICC

India will face its biggest challenge in the ICC Women’s World T20 when it locks horns with a gifted Australian team in an inconsequential league game on Saturday.

Considered title contenders, both India and Australia stormed into the semifinals of the showpiece with a game to spare.

Assured of a place in the last-four stage, the result of Saturday’s match may not be of much significance, but India is aware that beating a superior side will help it take the confidence into the knockouts.

The two fancied teams wasted no time in switching into top gear in the Caribbean, having convincingly won all their three matches so far, and another victory in the next round robin game would certainly be a huge morale booster.

Read: India beats Ireland, advances to knockouts

While India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur provided the best possible start to the tournament with her blazing century against New Zealand, the seasoned Mithali Raj showed there is no substitute for experience with two fine half-centuries, the knocks coming in times when the team needed them the most.

While Harmanpreet’s scintillating innings, which contained as many as eight sixes, will be remembered for years, Mithali got into the act in the much-awaited match against arch-rivals Pakistan and calmly saw the team through.

With India’s win, the Group B’s top-two spots were decided, with Australia being the other semifinalist. It also meant New Zealand and Pakistan were knocked out of the tournament.

Australia, too, has been in exceptional form. It easily saw off Pakistan in its first pool match by 52 runs, comprehensively defeated Ireland in its second by nine wickets and then beat New Zealand by 33 runs.

While Meg Lanning’s side has quite a few match-winners, the name that stands out at the moment is opening batter and wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy.

Her form with the bat recently has been very impressive and she has scored more runs than any of her teammates. Since the beginning of October, Alyssa has scored six half centuries in eight innings.

Ahead of the game against Australia, the India skipper said they need to be more aggressive on the field.

Teams (from):

India: Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj, Jemimah Rodrigues, Veda Krishnamurthy, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Anuja Patil, Ekta Bisht, Dayalan Hemalatha, Mansi Joshi, Pooja Vastrakar and Arundhati Reddy

Australia: Meg Lanning (captain), Rachael Haynes, Nicole Bolton, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham and Nicola Carey.