There couldn’t have been a better finish to Group B of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2016 – heading into the final day of action, not a single team from the group has sealed its berth in the semifinals.
The only team to be knocked out is Bangladesh Women, while England Women, West Indies Women, Pakistan Women and India Women are still in with realistic chances. England and West Indies have control of their fates but all sides will have an eye out on both the matches to be played on Sunday (March 27).
It is in this backdrop that England face Pakistan in Chennai soon after the first game of the day – India v West Indies in Mohali.
First, a look at the scenarios:
India win, Pakistan win – England and Pakistan qualify
India win, England win – England and India qualify
West Indies win, Pakistan win – West Indies and the team with higher net run-rate between Pakistan and England qualify
West Indies win, England win – West Indies and England qualify
England are sitting pretty on top with three wins in as many games but they are yet to bring out their A game.
The bowlers have adjusted to the conditions well but England’s big concern is their middle-order batting. Twice in the last two matches, they looked like botching up what seemed like straightforward chases; they made heavy weather of a 91-run target against India before eventually winning by two wickets and the theme continued against West Indies where they slipped from 59 for no loss to 106 for 9 before crossing the 109-run target in the last ball of the game.
The ever-reliable Charlotte Edwards, their captain, has been the only batter who has looked comfortable, and while a few others have got starts, none have managed to bat through. The collapses are a direct consequence of a struggle to adjust to the slow pitches.
Apart from the pitches, England have also had to deal with the tough schedule. After two intense games, England had a long travel from Dharamsala to Chennai – two venues in opposite poles of the country and in terms of conditions as well – on Friday. That, however, didn’t stop them from arriving at the MA Chidambaram Stadium at 9am on Saturday for a practice session.
Pakistan, meanwhile, have a chance to make history in the form of a maiden semifinal appearance. Led by the experienced and inspirational Sana Mir, Pakistan have gone from strength to strength in the tournament. They had a narrow loss to West Indies in their opening game in Chennai, but followed it up with a thrilling win over India and made light work of Bangladesh in New Delhi.
Pakistan’s success so far has been down to the work of their bowlers. They restricted West Indies and India to 103 and 96 respectively, and the highest they’ve conceded is 113 to Bangladesh. As expected, it’s their spinners calling the shots.
Anam Amin, the left-arm spinner, has taken seven wickets so far and has already bagged two Player of the Match awards. The other bowlers have rallied around her and England could expect more trial by spin in conditions conducive to turn.
Pakistan do have a weakness in their inexperienced batting lineup. Sidra Ameen, the opener who made an unbeaten 53 against Bangladesh, has been in decent form but the rest have to step up in their must-win clash on Sunday.
The goal for both sides is the same. For England, it’s sealing a semifinal berth as they are favoured to do; if they can pull off something special, Pakistan would get there too and make a huge splash while at it.
England Women: Charlotte Edwards (capt), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Georgia Elwiss, Natasha Farrant, Lydia Greenway, Rebecca Grundy, Jenny Gunn, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones, Heather Knight, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, SarahTaylor (wk), Danielle Wyatt.
Pakistan Women: Sana Mir (capt), Bismah Maroof, Ayesha Zafar, Nida Dar, Sadia Yousuf, Nain Abidi, Sidra Nawaz, Aliya Riaz, Sidra Ameen, Sania Khan, Iram Javed, Asmavia Iqbal, Nahida Khan, Muneeba Ali, Anam Amin.