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Abhishek Purohit in Mumbai
February 7, 2013
A day after India and Pakistan met to decide who would finish last in the tournament, another traditional rivalry, between Australia and England, will kick off the Super Six stage. Brabourne Stadium is miles away from Lord's or the SCG, but as England allrounder Arran Brindle put it, regardless of the venue, "a game against Australia means a huge amount to both teams."
While most of the spotlight was on Group A, which had the defending champions England, hosts India, exciting West Indies and surprise package Sri Lanka, Australia quietly racked up three wins out of three in Group B in Cuttack. They are the only side to have carried the maximum possible four points into the Super Six stage. If anything, they have only upped their level over the past week, as have England following the shock last-ball defeat to Sri Lanka. In Australia's final group game, against New Zealand, they chased down 228 with more than 11 overs and seven wickets to spare.
"I think we have actually been able to improve over those three games," Lisa Sthalekar, the Australia allrounder, said. "The first two games [v Pakistan and v South Africa] were against an opposition we weren't familiar with. We were faced with some difficult situations but we were able to get through and then the last game against the Kiwis we finally came out with the type of game we wanted to play in this tournament."
That was in Cuttack, though, on the eastern part of India. On the western seafront in Mumbai, Sthalekar said conditions were different. "In Cuttack there wasn't a lot of turn. The wicket was two-paced and had variable bounce, especially the game against South Africa. The wicket that we played against New Zealand was truer and that reflected in the scores.
"Here, what we had been able to see over the televised matches and in our warm-ups, there's a bit of turn that excites me as a spinner. The fast outfield and the warm-ups that we played here have given us a good insight as to what the wicket will hold."
England have played two of their three group games at Brabourne Stadium and Sthalekar admitted that gave them a slight advantage. "They have played three more matches to get an idea of the pitch and the conditions. It depends on what wicket you were on and how many times that has been played. But I still feel that our match - the warm-up - was a good enough preparation. We just trained out there which is similar conditions so the girls are getting a good grip and understanding of the wicket. They might have a slight advantage but we are coming here fresh as well, so they might be a bit over the scenery."
Brindle said England now knew the lines and lengths they needed to bowl at Brabourne Stadium and felt the surprise loss to Sri Lanka in their opening game had been an early wake-up call. "As soon as you lose a game in any competition it makes you re-evaluate and fine-tune every part," Brindle said. "We have done that in the last two games. We are looking to carry that into the Super Six. I think you sometimes learn more in defeat than you do when you go on winning every game.
"We have played the last few games with the pressure of having had to win those games. If we perform like we have had, we'll be a tough side to beat."
England are yet to beat Australia in an ODI at a neutral venue, following 13 defeats and a tie. The previous time the two sides met on neutral territory, in October 2012 in Colombo, Australia won the Women's World Twenty20 final by four runs.
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