India and Australia's Road to Final - Women's T20 World Cup

Defending champion Australia will square off against first-time finalist India in the final of the 2020 Women's T20 World Cup at the MCG on Sunday.

Australia captain Meg Lanning and her Indian counterpart Harmanpreet Kaur posing with the trophy ahead of the 2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup final.   -  Twitter (@T20WorldCup)

India will take on Australia in the final of the 2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday. Here's how the two sides made it to the summit clash.

- ROAD TO FINAL: INDIA -

India enjoyed an unbeaten run in the Women's T20 World Cup group stage, winning all four group games – against Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Harmanpreet Kaur and co. will now face the host in the final of the tournament.

India incidentally began its World Cup campaign by beating holder and host Australia by 17 runs in the tournament opener in Sydney. Put in to bat, India scored 132 for four in 20 overs, with all-rounder Deepti Sharma's unbeaten 49 helping the side recover from a slight wobble in the middle overs. Alyssa Healy started well for Australia, making 51, ably supported by Ashleigh Gardner who contributed 34. However, wickets kept falling courtesy a brilliant spell from Poonam Yadav that saw her give away only 19 runs, picking up four wickets in the process.

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The Indian team then took on Bangladesh in its second group game. Bangladesh opted to field and an Indian line-up sans Smriti Mandhana put up 142/6 in 20 overs. Jemimah Rodrigues and Shafali Verma put up a 37-run stand for the second wicket after Taniya Bhatia was dismissed early to steady the innings. Veda Krishnamurthy’s late cameo ensured India ended with a competitive score. The bowlers backed up the good work done by the batters with Poonam Yadav striking again with three wickets during an economical spell. Murshida Khatun and Nigar Sultana tried their best to keep the Tigresses in the game but they ultimately fell short by 18 runs.

Having won two games out of two, India faced New Zealand in its third league clash, with a foot in the semis. Losing the toss for a third successive time, India was made to bat first again. Verma starred yet again falling four runs short of a half-century while Bhatia chipped in with a steady 23 off 25 deliveries. Amelia Kerr and Rosemary Mair kept troubling the batting order with India managing to make only 133/8 in its allotted overs after a good start. In response, the White Ferns lost their openers fairly early, with only Maddy Green and Amelia Kerr resisting the Indian bowling attack. Kerr scored a quickfire 34 and nearly got her side through but it fell short by just three runs. With three wins, India was through to the knockouts.

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Shafali Verma, No. 1 in the ICC Women's T20I batting rankings, has been a standout performer for India at this year's T20 World Cup.   -  Twitter

 

In its last group game, keeping the winning streak going was a priority as India took on Sri Lanka. Batting first, Sri Lanka tumbled to 113/9 in 20 overs with skipper Chamari Athapaththu’s 33-run knock and WK Dilhari’s 25-run cameo the only saving grace in an otherwise abysmal batting show. For India, Radha Yadav picked up four wickets including the crucial one of Athapaththu. Verma wasted no time in the chase, holding the innings together and clearing the boundary with ease during her knock of 47 helping India to a seven-wicket win over the Islanders.

Drawn against England in the semifinal, India cruised into the summit clash ahead of the former by a better league record after the knockout tie was washed out without a ball being bowled in Sydney. That the tournament did not account for the rains and allocate a reserve day for the semis disappointed fans and players alike. But the result meant India Women's cricket team reached its first-ever T20 World Cup final.

- ROAD TO FINAL: AUSTRALIA -

A loss to India was not the perfect way to begin the competition for Australia but it was a timely wake-up call.

Facing Sri Lanka next, Australia was set a target of 123 with Athapaththu doing the hard work for her side again. After losing its openers cheaply, skipper Meg Lanning and Rachel Haynes took matters into their own hands with a 95-run stand for the fourth wicket to get Australia through by five wickets.

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Bangladesh’s bowling woes were left exposed by Healy and Beth Mooney in Australia’s third group game, with the pair stitching together a record 151-run opening partnership. The host set the Tigresses a target of 190. Bangladesh could only manage 103 for the loss of nine wickets in response, with Megan Schutt and Jess Jonassen cleaning up the batting order. This meant Australia’s last tie against New Zealand was an all-at-stake one – with the winner advancing to the semis.

The White Ferns put their neighbours in to bat with Beth Mooney’s 50-ball 60 and cameos from Gardner and Ellyse Perry helping Australia to 155 in its 20 overs. A steady start by Rachel Priest and skipper Sophie Devine threatened to knock Australia out of the tournament, the first time it wouldn’t make a semifinal. However, Georgia Wareham and Schutt took three wickets each to derail the New Zealand chase, with the White Ferns falling short by just four runs at the end, which meant Australia was to face South Africa in the knockouts.

Megan Schutt has been Australia's top performer this edition with nine wickets from five games at an average of 12.89.   -  vivek bendre

 

Australia’s semifinal clash against the Proteas was also under risk of cancellation after rain delayed the start of the game and caused interruptions in between. Thanks to a controlled run-a-ball 49 from Lanning, the host managed 134 for the fall of five wickets in 20 overs as the heavens broke loose. The outfield was already wet by this time but the ground staff managed to salvage the situation when the skies cleared. The target was revised to 98 from 13 overs. South Africa lost tournament centurion Lizelle Lee, skipper Dane van Niekerk and Sune Luus early. Not even a resurgent 41-run innings from Laura Woolvaardt could help the Proteas, with a tight last over from Jonassen forcing the girls to fall five runs short by the Duckworth Lewis method, sending Australia into its sixth straight final in the process.