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Amol Karhadkar in Cuttack
February 4, 2013
The last round of matches in Group B of the Women's World Cup may not contain the intrigue of those in Group A, but there's plenty at stake in Cuttack. Australia and New Zealand have already qualified for the Super Six, having won two games each, but the winner of their contest will carry forward more points to the next stage of the competition. The match between Pakistan and South Africa, however, is a knockout. The winner goes through, the loser plays for seventh place.
As a result, Australia and New Zealand had an intense training session at the DRIEMS Ground, as did Pakistan and South Africa at the Barabati Stadium, despite all four teams playing two games in the last three days. The Pakistan batsmen put their heads down and tried to block as many balls as they could, while the South African camp focused on catching drills. With good reason.
Pakistan scored only 188 runs for the loss of 20 wickets in their first two games against Australia and New Zealand, getting dismissed in 33.2 and 41.2 overs. South Africa dropped far too many catches, especially against New Zealand in their tournament opener, which ended in a 151-run defeat.
Though the South Africans put on a much better display against Australia, their death-over batting prevented them from achieving the second upset of the World Cup, after Sri Lanka shocked England in Group A. The improvement, however, left South Africa upbeat ahead of their contest against Pakistan.
"There are a lot of positive from those [two] games," former India captain Anjum Chopra, who is South Africa batting consultant, said. "We made a few silly errors against New Zealand and that cost us dearly. We came back and rectified those errors in the game against Australia. We would have liked to have the result going in our favour, which could well have been on the cards had we gotten about 30 to 40 runs more. We were about 144 at the end of 36 overs and we finished at 189, which is not very satisfying.
"If we start getting tighter and tighter and taking our chances, we can go through. Every game we have had to go out there and take more than 10 wickets [due to dropped catches], and in international cricket you can't be doing that every day."
The contest at the DRIEMS ground will be intense too. Rivals Australia and New Zealand have faced each other frequently in the past - six times since the beginning of 2012. Australia have the edge in terms of head-to-head contests, but New Zealand are tough opponents on current form.
"We have had two challenging matches against Pakistan and South Africa. It's good preparation," Alex Blackwell, Australia's vice-captain, said. "We've got to do few things better, particularly with our batting. Against New Zealand, we have got to get it all together.
"I am really impressed with what the New Zealanders are putting out, both with the bat and ball. They look like a very good all-round side. Players in form, Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine coming back into form and adding some guts to their batting, and Nicola Browne as well, so we've got to work out ways to get them out. We normally play on fast and bouncy wickets either back home or in New Zealand. But coming up against a very familiar opposition but in some challenging conditions [will be testing for both teams]."
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