ANI Photo | Women’s T20 WC: A look at Team India’s performance in group stage ahead of semifinal against Australia

India will be eyeing to get one step closer to glory as they take on Australia, a team seeking to complete a hat-trick of titles, in the semifinal of the ongoing ICC Women’s T20 World Cup on Wednesday.
Women in Blue will be looking forward to giving it all on the field to stop Australia’s winning run in the tournament and prevent them from cruising into the final. India finished in the second position in Group 2 with three wins, a loss in four games, and a total of six points. Australia finished at the top of Group 1 with four wins in four matches and a total of eight points.
India started off its T20 WC campaign with a seven-wicket win over Pakistan, which saw Jemimah Rodrigues star with an unbeaten 53 off 38 balls and Richa Ghosh play a cameo of 31* in 20 balls to guide India to target of 150 with an over to spare.
India continued their winning run in the tournament with a six-wicket win over West Indies, as they chased down a total of 119 runs. The run-chase did not come without its share of hiccups, as India was reduced to 43/3 at one point. But another explosive masterclass from Richa (44* off 32 balls) took the team to victory. Deepti Sharma also starred with the ball, taking 3/15 to restrict Windies to 118/6 earlier in the first innings.
However, India’s winning run came to halt against England. Though pacer Renuka Singh (5/15) bowled her heart out in the powerplay to restrict England to 29/3, India could not maintain the pressure. Knocks from Nat Sciver-Brunt (50 off 42 balls), skipper Heather Knight (28 off 23 balls) and wicketkeeper Amy Jones (40 off 27 balls) helped England escape the clutches of Indian bowling and guided them to a competitive 151/7 in 20 overs.
India fell 11 runs short of the target despite knocks from opener Smriti Mandhana (52 off 41 balls) and Richa (47* off 34 balls) as the top-order and middle-order batters did not fire once again.
However, things got back on track for India with a five-run win over Ireland via the DLS method in their final group-stage match. Women in Blue qualified for the semis and it was a knock from Smriti (87 off 54 balls) which helped their cause. India posted 155/6 in 20 overs. Ireland was given a target of 60 runs in 8.2 overs, which it failed to chase and ended the innings at 54/2.
The main issue of India in this tournament has been their heavy reliance on Smriti and Richa, who found runs consistently. Opener Shafali Verma (93 in four innings) Jemimah (86 runs in four innings), skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (66 in four innings) have failed to make an impact, leaving everything to Smriti and finisher Richa to handle. Though Shafali got some solid starts, she failed to convert them into big scores.
Also, the match against England showed how Team India let the game slip away from their hands despite having control initially. Renuka’s fiery powerplay spell went in vain as the team failed to check the run flow in the middle overs.
This is something Harmanpreet herself highlighted in the post-match presentation after the loss to England.
“We started really well but in the middle overs, we did not bowl according to plan and gave away too many runs. That is where we lost the momentum. We were doing well with the bat but did not get the run rate that we were looking for and that is why we lost wickets,” said Harmanpreet in the post-match presentation.

Ahead of the semis, the skipper also pointed out the issue of dot-balls.
India displayed some progress against Ireland with 41 dots in their innings of 155 for 6, powered by Smriti Mandhana’s T20I career-best score of 87, after facing 51 dot balls in their loss to Group B leaders England on Sunday.
They intend to cut that even more, especially when playing against an opponent like Australia. Ireland had 44 for 2 at the end of the Powerplay while India had 42 for 0; India had only amassed 63 for 1 at the midway point of their innings.
“World Cup games are always something where both the teams are always under pressure. I think these matches if 150 is on the board, you always [have] the upper hand. We are not putting too much pressure on ourselves. We are just going [out] there and understanding what conditions are there and just playing according to the situation. Dot balls are something which [are] already worrying us. In the next game, we would love to see some improvement in that area also,” the captain added.
India had endured a 1-4 series loss in five-match T20I series at home against Australia last year. They also had to settle for a silver after a nine-run loss to Australia in the final of the Commonwealth Games 2022 cricket tournament in Birmingham.
The semifinal is a perfect occasion for Women in Blue to play their best cricket against Aussies, rectify the mistakes that cost them the aforementioned matches and have affected their T20 WC campaign adversely despite their qualification to semis.
India’s star performers in the group stage:
-Smriti Mandhana (149 runs in three matches at an average of 49.66, strike rate of 143.26 and two fifties)
-Richa Ghosh (122 runs in four matches, an average of 122.00 and a strike rate of 140.22)
-Renuka Singh (Seven wickets, four matches, economy rate of 9.71, best bowling figures of 5/15)
-Deepti Sharma (Five wickets, four matches, economy rate of 7.84, best bowling figures of 3/15). (ANI)

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