A blockbuster encounter awaits at Cape Town’s Newlands Stadium as India lock horns with Australia in the first semi-final of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 on Thursday, February 23.
The Women in Blue won three out of their four Group 2 matches to finish second behind England. Defending champions Australia, meanwhile, have qualified unbeaten and as the toppers of Group 1.
In what is a repeat of the Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 final, Harmanpreet Kaur and Co. will have to play out of their skins to get past the Aussies.
Here, we predict what India’s playing XI for this semi-final clash could look like:
Openers – Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana
The tried and tested opening combination of Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana should open the innings again in their semi-final clash against Australia. Both batters have endured contrasting fortunes so far, with Shafali struggling for form and Mandhana hitting two consecutive half-centuries.
The openers will have to bring their A-game to the fore against Australia if India are to pull off a famous win and book their place in the Women’s T20 World Cup final for the second consecutive time.
Middle order – Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur (c), and Richa Ghosh (wk)
The middle order is expected to wear a familiar look, with Jemimah Rodrigues leading the way at No. 3. Rodrigues struck a masterful half-century in India’s tournament opener against Pakistan, but hasn’t quite been amongst the runs thereafter.
Yet, it isn’t as big a worry as Harmanpreet Kaur’s form, with the skipper yet to hit her straps. The Women in Blue will hope that the big occasion brings out the best in her against a quality Australian outfit and it is imperative that she does.
Richa Ghosh might have recorded a duck against Ireland, but she has been India’s best batter at the ongoing Women’s T20 World Cup without a shadow of a doubt. Having tallied 122 runs at a strike rate of 140.22, the wicketkeeper-batter has remained unbeaten on three occasions this tournament and could make or break the semifinal against Australia too.
All-rounders – Deepti Sharma, Devika Vaidya, and Pooja Vastrakar
Deepti Sharma remains a pivotal lynchpin for the Women in Blue with her off-spinners and will also have a massive role to play with the bat, even if she hasn’t laid down a marker yet on that front.
Devika Vaidya has been in and out of the playing XI, but the leg-spin variety she offers with the ball could see her take the field against Australia. Pooja Vastrakar, on the other hand, has looked incisive with the ball and can strike it long, lending some much-needed depth to the Indian outfit.
This all-round core will be tasked with capturing the crucial moments for India in the Women’s T20 World Cup semi-final.
Bowlers – Shikha Pandey, Radha Yadav, and Renuka Singh
Shikha Pandey is one of three frontline seamers expected to feature in the XI apart from Renuka Singh and Vastrakar. Pandey hasn’t been a regular amongst the wickets but would be keen to replicate the dream delivery she sent down to castle Alyssa Healy in 2021.
Left-arm spinner Radha Yadav has arguably been the best spinner on display for the Women in Blue in the tournament. She missed the last game owing to illness but, if fully recovered, should slot back in with Rajeshwari Gayakwad, who remains wicketless after four Women’s T20 World Cup games, likely to make way.
There is no doubt, though, that a good burden of expectations rests on Renuka’s shoulders. Having bagged a five-wicket haul against England, she will look to make early inroads on Thursday to set up the game for the Women in Blue.
India’s predicted playing XI for the semifinal against Australia: Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Richa Ghosh (wk), Deepti Sharma, Devika Vaidya, Pooja Vastrakar, Shikha Pandey, Radha Yadav, Renuka Singh
Courtesy: Sports Keeda
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