real test when they take on Group 2 toppers England in the third Group match of the Women’s T20 World Cup in Gqeberha on Saturday.
The last clash between these sides — the third ODI at Lord’s in September last year — was marred by off-spinning allrounder Deepti Sharma running out England’s last batter Charlie Dean at the non-striker’s end (for backing up too far) to help her team win the game by 16 runs. The incident sparked a furious debate, with former England cricketers criticising Deepti’s action.
The Indians, though, vehemently defended Deepti. However, the fact that they blanked England 3-0 to record their first ODI series win in that country in 23 years, and pipped them by four runs in the semifinals of the T20 competition of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, should give India plenty of confidence.
However, India are yet to beat England in the T20 World Cup, having lost to them five times. Both the teams would be keen to put that Deepti incident behind and focus on winning this key clash which could decide who tops the pool.
“That series win over England gave us a lot of confidence, but our focus is firmly on the crucial match tomorrow. We’ll give our 100%, enjoy the game and execute our plans,” Indian opener Shafali Verma, who has scored 28 and 33 in the first two games, said on match eve.
Despite getting starts on a consistent basis, the ultra-aggressive Shafali has tended to throw away her wicket after getting attractive 20s and 30s.
“I’m getting good starts, but I need to convert them. In my previous two innings here too, I was looking to convert my starts, but it didn’t happen. I’m more focused on the next game,” Shafali acknowledged.
A win would help India, the finalists of the 2020 edition in Australia, inch closer to a semifinal spot, but that won’t be easy against a team which beat West Indies and then Ireland.
Interestingly, both India and England have won their previous games chasing. Both have two wins each, but England are topping the group, courtesy a better net run rate
(+2.497) than India (0.590).
India will be pleased with the way things have gone so far.