“Who runs the world?” asks Beyonce. “Girls!” responds Queen Bey’s chorus with pump-the-fists ferocity.
“Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it. Victory is in your veins. You know it, you know it,” Katy Perry reminds us, before hitting the crescendo. “Don’t be surprised, I will still rise.”
These anthems of our times (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) have been played out at every match of this ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, duly accompanied by visuals of the best cricketers doing high-drama cricket things, for everyone’s daily (sometimes double) dose of inspiration and earworm infestation.
We’ve been inspired too – to extend the soundtrack to our analysis of the four semifinalists’ journey so far. Because honestly, Katy Perry says it best.
In the immortal words of Katy Perry: “Do you ever feel, you’re so paper thin? Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?” That was England a year ago, but then they learnt an important lesson. “There’s a spark in you. You’ve just got to ignite, the light, and let it shine.
“Cause baby you’re a firework.”
What’s clicked: The batting. Two 370-plus totals, five hundreds, and contributions from up and down the order as they’ve shot across the sky-y-y. There’ve also backed themselves to fight when pushed to a corner, as seen in the last gasp win against Australia.
Importantly, it’s all happened with a smile.
Areas of concern: The opening partnership – Lauren Winfield hasn’t got the big scores yet. Also, since their opening loss to India, they’ve not been tested in a chase.
Highlight so far: Sarah Taylor’s return. Over two spectacular knocks, she’s showcased her range and innovation. The best part, as her teammates say, is that she seems to be enjoying herself.
The big question: What new level of awesome will Nat Sciver hit next?
MVP: Tammy Beaumont. The opener is the leading run-getter at this stage of the World Cup, averaging 53.14. She’s held down one end firmly, taking the pressure of her partners as they find their feet.
In the immortal words of Katy Perry: They’ve got the eye of the tiger, the fire, dancing through the fire, ‘cause they are the champions and you’re gonna hear them roar, louder than a lion, ‘cause they are the champions, and you’re gonna hear them roar-oh-oh-oh-oh.
What’s clicked: Everything. Not always all together, but most of it at most times. The opening pair are least affected by the dot balls they accumulate, because they know they, and the rest of the line-up, can make up for it. They are one of the fittest sides and the fielding has consistently threatened opposition batters. The bowlers too have regained rhythm, with the spinners especially effective.
Areas of concern: Meg Lanning’s shoulder. Looking at her 100-plus average, it would appear it hasn’t unduly hampered her batting, but it is a fallibility in the best batter in the world that a smart bowling side could target. Also, the pace bowlers have taken a back seat to spin, and Ellyse Perry hasn’t always looked threatening with ball in hand.
Highlight so far: Their approach to a chase. Lanning, especially, makes it look oh-so-easy, as in her 152 not out in response to Chamari Athapaththu’s 178 not out.
The big question: How is a player not good enough to make your first-choice XI good enough to be your first-choice stand-in captain?
MVP: Ellyse Perry. Five fifties in a row; 22 half-centuries, in fact, in 31 innings since the start of 2014. At this point, her bowling is almost a bonus.
In the immortal words of Katy Perry: They’re hot then they’re cold, they’re yes then they’re no, they’re in then they’re out, they’re up then they’re down.
What’s clicked: Mithali Raj. The India captain is breaking records like they’re coconuts outside a temple. The spin attack is also the best in the tournament, and even when one of them is struggling, the captain has options on the bench, as Rajeshwari Gayakwad proved in the crucial win against New Zealand.
Areas of concern: The fielding. The fitness. The dot ball percentage. The timidity. But then again, when this side clicks, none of that matters. More consistency and self-belief, though, would be a good place to start preparations for the semifinal.
Highlight so far: Harmanpreet Kaur and Veda Krishnamurthy’s support act against New Zealand. Raj had demanded that her senior players stand up when it mattered, and they listened.
The big question: Which India will turn up in the semis?
MVP: Poonam Yadav. The diminutive legspinner has eight wickets from seven matches, and with an economy of 3.45, has played a big role in turning the pressure on batting attacks.
In the immortal words of Katy Perry: Do you dare to do this? Cause they’re coming atcha like a dark horse. Are you ready for, ready for, a perfect storm, perfect storm?
What’s clicked: They’re playing with magic. This is a team with hunger and self-belief, that in the sum of its talented parts can be unbeatable. They’re all exciting in their own way – the new-ball attack, the first change, the legspinners, the openers with their contrasting styles, their fiery allrounders. At the first chance, they’ll ride the waves.
Areas of concern: Consistency. The problem with riding the waves is that you can sometimes get knocked down. The likes of Lizelle Lee are either go big or go bust. The fielding too needs tightening – you’d think that with Marizanne Kapp giving them the death stare for every fumble, they’d have sorted that out by now.
Highlight so far: Four wickets for no runs conceded. Dane van Niekerk will be a trivia question one day, and we’ll all think fondly of that day in Leicester when for a few hours against Windies, the South African bowlers were walking on water.
The big question: Why doesn’t van Niekerk bowl herself more and earlier?
MVP: Chloe Tryon. The allrounder can do in the death what Lee does at the top, with the added skill of being able to read the match situation and pace her game accordingly.