India will be the heavy favourite to beat Thailand in the semifinal of the Women’s Asia Cup on Thursday.
The last match between the two teams, played during the league stage, had turned out to be a no-contest: India skittled Thailand out for just 37 runs in 15.1 overs en route to a nine-wicket win. Having made it to the semifinal at the expense of 2018 champion Bangladesh, Thailand would be hoping for a better effort than that with the bat.
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The Women’s Asia Cup has come as a perfect opportunity for India to test its bench strength and give its less-experienced players enough game time ahead of the next year’s T20 World Cup in South Africa. As a result, India captain Harmanpreet Kaur played only three of the six league matches, and even dropped down to No. 7 against Pakistan in the only game the team lost.
India has tried out the likes of Kiran Prabhu Navgire and Dayalan Hemalatha in search of a “finisher.” Navgire, who smashed the fastest fifty in the Women’s T20 Challenge earlier in May, managed to score just 10 runs from three innings, while the more experienced Hemalatha also failed to impress, scoring 45 runs in four innings. It remains to be seen if the team continues to experiment or play full strength to be ready for the title clash.
The spin troika of Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana and Rajeshwari Gayakwad have managed to keep most of the teams under check.
To make it a contest, the onus would be on Thailand's top three - Nannapat Koncharoenkai, Natthakan Chantham and skipper Chaiwai - to fire. The trio has done bulk of the scoring for the team and a big test awaits them against a disciplined Indian bowling attack.
The biggest positive for India has been Jemimah Rodrigues’ stunning form: Jemimah has shouldered the responsibility in the middle-order and is leading the run-charts with 188 runs with two half-centuries. Having missed two earlier games, opener Shafali Verma, too, has returned to form. They will be hoping to score some more runs.
The second semifinal, also on Thursday, will be played between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
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