Australia v England, Women's World T20, 1st semi-final, Delhi March 29, 2016

In-form England gear up for defending champions' mojo

10

Match facts

Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Start time 1430 local (09:00 GMT)

Alyssa Healy is the No.1 wicketkeeper, but she needs to step up with the bat © Getty Images

Big Picture

It's a clash between two powerhouses of the women's game, one that elicits excitement, passion and the urge to win at any cost. Not that some of the other sides don't, but England v Australia anywhere in the world, be it in men's or women's cricket, is a contest of nerves, frayed tempers at times, anticipation, and plenty of verbal volleys.

That Meg Lanning and her Southern Stars are within two wins from adding their fourth World T20 title into their burgeoning trophy cabinet should fire them up. Equally keyed up on the other side will be Charlotte Edwards, England's talisman, best batsman, reputed leader, legend of the game, who would want to make, perhaps, her last World T20 appearance a memorable one. But that won't be a walk in the park by any means.

England go in to the clash with an all-win record in the group stages. The misfiring batting unit somewhat found remedial measures in demoralising Pakistan; Edwards leading the way with an exuberant half-century. In comparison, Australia's campaign has been a topsy-turvy one, with the top order continuing to come under scrutiny - their meltdown against superior attacks in New Zealand and South Africa - is something England would have done well to note.

Both England and Australia know what it takes to win the title, but the similarity ends there. Since winning the inaugural edition in 2009, England have somehow slipped under pressure - losing to Australia on three occasions in a knockout clash at a world event. Australia, who won two titles under Jodie Fields in 2010 and 2012, seemed to have carried forward the mantle even in the absence of some stalwarts like Lisa Sthalekar. The transition has been seamless as the side lifted the trophy under Lanning in 2012 and 2014.

While England have played their matches in Banglore, Dharamsala and Chennai, that Australia have been based in Delhi for more than week now could give them an edge come Wednesday.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Australia : WWLWW
England: WWWWW

In the spotlight

There's been an air of intrigue around England's Sarah Taylor ever since she became the first woman to play men's grade cricket in Australia last year. Taylor evokes awe when she bashes the ball with an abandon rarely seen in the women's game. With 288 runs in five innings coming into the Women's World T20, she was a part of the opposition's plan in every game. But scores of 9, 16, 3 and 0 accompanied by the manner of her dismissals against spin particularly may be playing on her mind. There's no bigger opportunity to set things straight than against Australia in her fifth straight World T20 campaign.

Alyssa Healy has been the No. 1 wicketkeeper across formats since Jodie Fields retired in 2013. While her modest numbers aren't a true reflection of her potential, it's time she translated that into a performance of note at the business end of the tournament. While her glovework has been impressive, scores of 5, 2, 12 and 6 point to her being a weak link in an otherwise robust top order.

Heather Knight, who had missed the game against Pakistan because of a stomach bug, is likely to return to the XI © IDI/Getty

Teams news

Heather Knight's stomach bug briefly caused concerns in the England camp when she missed the game against Pakistan in Chennai, but Edwards confirmed she has sufficiently recovered since and is likely to take the field barring a relapse. That means she is likely to slot back in at the expense of Georgia Elwiss, who made a golden duck in her only game in the competition. There could also be a temptation to persist with Laura Marsh, who impressed in her only outing, with three wickets. Her batting could come in handy as well.

England (probable) 1. Charlotte Edwards 2.Tammy Beaumont 3. Sarah Taylor 4. Heather Knight 5. Natalie Sciver 6. Laura Marsh 7. Lydia Greenway 8. Danny Wyatt 9. Katherine Brunt 10. Jenny Gunn 11. Anya Shrubsole

Depending on how the surface plays - Kotla is known to aid slower bowlers traditionally even though it has played far better than some of the other tracks in the country - Australia could ponder over the inclusion of Erin Osborne, the offspinner, in place of Lauren Cheatle, the left-arm seamer.

Australia (probable) 1 Elyse Villani. 2 Alyssa Healy 3 Meg Lanning 4 Ellyse Perry 5 Alex Blackwell 6 Jess Jonassen 7 Beth Mooney 8 Erin Osborne/Lauren Cheatle 9 Megan Schutt 10 Rene Farrell 11 Kristen Beams

Pitch and conditions

Both captains expected the surface to play well, and there was ample proof of it when Australia played Sri Lanka last week. While spinners did make an impact, it was more due to their skill more than anything else. The fact that a men's semi-final would follow later would mean the need to produce a surface that plays well throughout.

Stats and trivia

  • Australia and England have clashed only once before at the World T20 semi-final, in 2009. England had the better of the exchanges then, and went on to win the tournament
  • With 572 runs in 24 matches, Charlotte Edwards is has the leading run aggregate in T20Is between both sides. Meg Lanning comes second with 520 runs in 19 matches.

Quotes

"Any England-Australia game, whether it's the Ashes or at a World Cup is one of the biggest games you play in. We've had experience of last summer. We will take confidence from winning T20s 2-1. But you've got to win; you can't predict the semi-finals like you could ten years ago." England captain Charlotte Edwards expects a tough fight

"There's definitely a fair bit if banter. We love playing against England because we know it's going to be a tough contest. With the WBBL this year, we played alongside few of the girls as well so that adds another dimension I guess. Once we walk over that white line where the battle really starts, we're looking forward to taking them on and we'll be on the front foot, that's for sure." Australia captain Meg Lanning on the famous rivalry

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • KingOwl on March 30, 2016, 10:56 GMT

    What a misleading headline! I woke up (in Canada) and just checked Cricinfo to read that England are steady in their chase of 133. I thought what? NZ made only 133?? Turns out it is the Women's Semi. Phew!

  • NP_NY on March 30, 2016, 9:58 GMT

    Loving the fact that the women's T20 game is the top headline on cricinfo at the moment. 'hope women's cricket continues to grow.

  • MEMORYLOSS-RECTIFIED on March 30, 2016, 8:06 GMT

    So far the trend is when women team succeeds men team lose and vice versa. Let us see what happens today.

  • CodandChips on March 30, 2016, 7:21 GMT

    Australia vs England is always a massive game. I'm glad to have seen some of the other countries challenge their supremacy though, because I believe it's showing the progression of the Women's game. That fielding generally has improved is a good sign of improve professionalism, eventhough still a lot more is needed to win over more fans.

    This game really could go either way. England need to sort out the batting- another collapse like against India and West Indies, and it will be much harder to hold on vs Australia. That said, winning games while not playing to your best is a good sign. Come on England!

  • Rajan Nagarajan on March 30, 2016, 2:34 GMT

    Both NZ and England are of the same type. One day they play well and the next day they play different. So any type of result is possible.

  • Puffin on March 29, 2016, 23:07 GMT

    England's openers need to stay in and get decent scores, then let Australia chase under pressure. Anything else and they'll struggle to win.

  • Jose...P on March 29, 2016, 14:43 GMT

    Women's mini / micro "ashes", may I presume?

  • KUMARPALV9 on March 29, 2016, 14:37 GMT

    Gonna be a great contest hopefully. May the better team win which in global tournaments is Australia.

  • Justanother Human on March 29, 2016, 13:26 GMT

    For England the problem lies in their approach to the game. They are talented, but when it comes to psychological warfare they are way behind other countries and that is the reason why they are unable to win major trophies in cricket and football.

  • Eben99 on March 29, 2016, 13:19 GMT

    England haven't been good at chasing this series. Tried their best to lose the matches against India & Pakistan. Bat first and get a good score on board. Sarah Taylor needs a score.

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