India pledge all-out attack to break Australia grip at T20 World Cup

Cape Town (AFP): Australia and England are hot favourites to reach Sunday’s final of the Women’s T20 World Cup, but India captain Harmanpreet Kaur believes there is a factor which can alter the odds.

“Pressure,” she said, looking ahead to Thursday’s semi-final against Australia at Newlands in Cape Town.

“In World Cup games both teams are under pressure.”

England play South Africa in the second semi-final on Friday

Australia and England were unbeaten in the group stages and prevailed with attacking cricket when their superiority was challenged.

“They attack a lot,” said 19-year-old India wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh.

“So, whatever happens to them, even if the batter is out, they don’t stop attacking. We also have good batting depth, so will be playing an attacking game.”

The odds, however, are against India.

Defending champions Australia have won nine of the pair’s last 10 meetings with the other game ending in a tie.

When they met in the 2020 final in Melbourne, Australia cantered to an 85-run win after bowling out India for just 99.

However, skipper Meg Lanning said Wednesday that there will be no complacency in her team.

‘Great depth’

“I think that India have shown that they’re not relying on one or two players. They’ve got some great depth as well,” she said.

“We both start at the same level tomorrow. It doesn’t matter what’s happened previously in this tournament or previous games. It’s about what happens on the park tomorrow. And yeah, we feel like if we play our best cricket, that will give us a really good chance to win.”

Leading from the front: Australia’s Meg Lanning

Australia are expected to triumph and are largely impervious to the pressures that Kaur spoke about as winners of five out of seven T20 World Cups and seven 50-over World Cups.

Australia will be appearing at Newlands for the first time in the tournament after playing their group matches in Paarl and Gqeberha.

If anything the extra bounce and pace at Newlands should suit their stroke-playing batters as well as exciting fast bowler Darcie Brown and leg-spinner Georgia Wareham.

They have a bowling attack which has yet to concede more than the 124 runs scored by South Africa.

India have a strong batting line-up in which Jemima Rodrigues, Smriti Mandhana and hard-hitting Ghosh have been in the runs.

Captain Kaur is a proven performer and Shafali Verma is an opening batter who can set a match-winning tempo.

“Smriti and Verma are key players for them who we’ve spoken about a little bit, but can take the game away from you very quickly,” added Lanning.

“We’ve planned and we’ll certainly be trying to take early wickets because we know in T20 cricket that can make a massive difference.”

India’s bowling is built around the swing of Renuka Thakur and an assortment of slow bowlers in which Deepti Sharma is the main threat.

Australia will be at full strength with vice-captain Alyssa Healy fit again after sitting out the six-wicket victory over South Africa with a quad injury.

Like Australia, England played their early matches away from Newlands but were utterly dominant against Pakistan in their first appearance at the iconic tournament headquarters on Tuesday.

‘Positive cricket’

Wicketkeeper Amy Jones, an effective hard-hitting “finisher” in the closing overs, said the team was committed to attacking cricket.

In the runs: South Africa’s Laura Wolvaardt celebrates after scoring a half-century against Bangladesh

“When you know you’ve got the backing of everyone in your team to stick to your strengths and play the most positive cricket we can it definitely simplifies it,” she said.

South Africa won only two of their four pool games and qualified on net run-rate on the strength of a single impressive bowling performance, when they dismissed New Zealand for 67.

Opening batter Laura Wolvaardt, who made 66 not out against Bangladesh on Tuesday, admitted South Africa had “a mental lapse” and played their worst match of the tournament when they were beaten by England in the semi-finals of the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand last year.

“We just need to have a lot of discussions about how to stay mentally strong. I think we have the talent and skill,” said Wolvaardt.