James Piechowski takes a look at the group stages of the WWT20, and assesses how each of the top 8 ranked nations fared…
Group B: England find their A-game at last; Keen defence is key to West Indies progression
Final Qualifying Table
|Position||Team||Won||Lost||Net Run Rate||Points|
|2||West Indies (Q)||3||1||+0.688||6|
Q = Qualified for semi-final stage
England failed to display a complete performance until their final game. In fact, their opening trio of fixtures were characterised by a solid first half to the match, followed by a somewhat sloppy and disappointing second half. In the first game, after posting 153 they allowed Bangladesh to achieve their highest T20I score of 117, probably 20 too many. And then the chases of relatively low scores against India (91) and West Indies (109) were marred by worrying middle order collapses, which in each case saw England barely scrape home, almost snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
England will need to be more consistent throughout a match if they are to progress further. They will also need to bat appropriately to the situation. Chasing a small target does not mean every batter needs to take the same risks. Instead, the focus should be on fulfilling the player’s clearly defined roles, and building partnerships. England should concentrate on early wickets when bowling as this helps limit the opposition score. Worth mentioning as well is the form, and approach, of Tammy Beaumont – scoring 106 runs at a strike rate of 130, including 16 fours and 3 sixes. Her attitude opening the batting with Edwards is so refreshing that some England fans have already begun to dub the powerplay “Tammy Time”. She has won many fans in this WWT20, journalists and England supporters alike.
It was only in their last match against Pakistan that England produced a complete performance. Knight missed the game due to illness, and England will be desperate for her to return for the semi final. Her solidity with the bat and useful spin bowling could be vital. England drafted in Georgia Elwiss and Laura Marsh to replace Grundy, and both performed well with the ball – they took 5 wickets between them. A superb unbeaten 77* by Edwards was enough to see off a late Pakistani challenge. Marsh is a useful T20 bowler, who had an extraordinary strike rate in the WBBL, taking 9 wickets in only 19 completed overs for Sydney Sixers. England should seriously consider selecting her for the semi-final if the conditions look suitable, which they could well do in Delhi.
Pakistan surpassed the expectations of many, with 2 strong and consistent performances. Their tight bowling was backed up with intelligent batting which was effective enough to see them through. And this was despite the early loss of a key player, Javeria Khan, due to injury. In her stead, Bismah Maroof stepped up. An elegant left hander with a strong bottom hand and extraordinary wide grip in her stance, she stands out in the Pakistan ranks. With the ball, the accurate spin of Anam Amin confounded opposition batters. The side could not sustain their run however, and fell away in the final game against England, which they needed to win to ensure qualification.
West Indies‘ reputation for big hitting with the likes of Deandra Dottin and Stafanie Taylor preceded them. But in the group matches they seemed strangely subdued and unable to hit the ball as cleanly as they can. WI batted first in every group match. However, they both stuck it out in the middle and made important runs, to give defendable totals. Their bowling relied heavily on batters Matthews, Taylor and Dottin, the latter making up for what she lacked in batting form with wicket-taking ability. She has a fast action, hits the pitch hard and can generate pace up to the mid 70s mph. WI also seem to have an uncanny ability to defend a low total. Their bowling has been tight, field placements ideal and they have managed to take wickets at important moments in each game. WI have qualified the hard way, and that often stands a side in good stead going forward.
India – With the ball, all-rounder Harmanpreet Kaur’s unpredictable brand of spin has plenty of variations, and although she can leak runs, batters find it hard to pick her. Consequently, she took wickets, and best of all these were at a high strike rate of 7 wickets in just 11 overs. Anuja Patil and Ekta Bisht provided more economical spin support.
India’s batting was spearheaded by Veda Krishnamurthy, who showed impressive form. She has strong hitting ability, can manoeuvre the field, and was better able to set a decent clip early on than the rest of their top order. The other batters struggled to get going for much of the time, with too few cameo contributions, which ultimately cost India a semi-final berth. The focus seemed to be too much on big hitting and not enough on working the ball into gaps for the batters to get themselves in. Were they too focused on crowd-pleasing, when simply going for the win in the most efficient fashion would have sufficed? Only they will know.
How India dealt with the pressure of playing in front of an expectant home crowd would be key to their chances. This handling of pressure represents the next step up for all the rapidly improving sides like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. When the scales finally fall from the eyes of the viewing public in their home countries, and they realise that they have (and have had, all along!) a women’s team really worth supporting, along will come the next challenge – pressure to perform.
The advantage the more established nations have is that their players are more accustomed to facing the media spotlight. How India froze against Pakistan, and West Indies, under the scrutiny and weight of expectation of a nation, was palpable. Out went the free-flowing run-scoring antics of the Bangladesh game, and instead we saw a nervous, timid India who were clearly overwhelmed by the occasion.