India and Australia will be playing in the Women's World T20 for the fourth time, with Australia having won two matches and India only once. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
The year 2020 is the year of Twenty20 Internationals. The first major tournament of the year will start on Friday and it is the ICC Women's T20 World Cup. The first match will see a resurgent India women's cricket team, led by Harmanpreet Kaur, take on the might of Australia, the four-time World T20 champions. This tournament is set to break all kinds of records, right from gender representation to massive crowds predicted for the final which will be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 8. India and Australia will be playing in the Women's World T20 for the fourth time, with Australia having won two matches. However, India won their last encounter in the 2018 World T20 clash in Providence, Guyana and they will be determined to repeat that performance again. For India, they only have themselves to challenge.
Before the ICC Women's T20 World Cup, Harmanpreet Kaur spoke about the need of the Indian cricket team to avoid big game tournament pressure if they have to achieve success. In the last three years, India have made giant strides in women's cricket but they have stumbled in heart-breaking fashion. In the 2017 Women's World Cup, India were on the cusp of creating history but a sensational collapse thanks to Anya Shrubsole's 6/46 resulted in a nine-run loss in the final to England. In 2018, a dodgy team selection call in the omission of Mithali Raj saw India lose the Women's World T20 semi-final to England again.
In 2020, during the Women's T20 tri-series tournament involving Australia and England, Smriti Mandhana's fifty had put India on course for a win but they a sensational collapse of 7/29 saw Australia win by 11 runs. Australia, on the other hand, have been simply dominant. Apart from 2016, where they lost in the final, they have been dominant in all facets and they will be the odds-on favorite heading into the opening game in Sydney. They do have some areas of concern, particularly with Alyssa Healy. The Australia woman wicketkeeper was the Player of the tournament in the 2018 edition but heading into the 2020 edition, she has been struggling for form. However, Australia possess the quality of Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry, Jess Jonassen and Beth Mooney. Their batting and bowling, on any given day, helps Australia over the line.
With Tayla Vlaeminck ruled out of the World T20 for Australia and with Alyssa Healy's form dodgy, Australia have a couple of team composition issues to be worried about. With India overly reliant on the top four, India will be determined that their under-cooked middle order steps up to the plate
Harmanpreet Kaur's India are overly reliant on the top order to deliver results. (Image credit: Getty Images)
India Predicted XI: Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Taniya Bhatia (wk), Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh, Shikha Pandey, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav
Australia Predicted XI: Alyssa Healy (wk), Beth Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner, Meg Lanning (c), Ellyse Perry, Rachael Haynes, Nicola Carey, Annabel Sutherland, Jess Jonassen, Megan Schutt, Erin Burns
The weather in Sydney for the opening game is cloudy and there are chances that rain could play a part in the match. The maximum temperature of 22 and a minimum of 18 degrees will make the conditions comfortable for the players but one will be hoping that rain stays away.
Date: Friday, February 21
Time: 1:30 PM
Venue: Sydney Showground Stadium, Sydney
"This year, we have a few new faces in the team. Shafali has been doing very well, and we are very happy for her. She understands her game very well. She is a very important part of the team," Harmanpreet Kaur heaps praise on youngster Shafali Verma.
"There will always be pressure involved in playing a big event like the World Cup, regardless of where it is played. Everyone starts on an even keel; there is no real advantage or disadvantage to playing at home. It's going to be a massive challenge," Australia skipper Meg Lanning.