ICC Women's T20 World Cup: India take on England, Oz face SA in semis
‘Excellent team’ can stop Indian eves from reaching final: Former Australia pacer Lee
Sydney : India will take on England in the semi-final of the ongoing Women's T20 World Cup on Thursday while Australia will take on South Africa in the other semi-final on Friday.
The knockout fixtures were confirmed after South Africa topped their group with their match against West Indies being abandoned due to rain on Tuesday. The line-up was confirmed when both the Proteas and West Indies were awarded a point after no play was possible due to rain in the group stage's final game at the Sydney Showground.
India were the only team to emerge from the groups with a perfect record and their clash with England is a re-run of the 2017 World Cup final at Lord's, won by Heather Knight's side.
Hosts Australia, having booked their place in the knockout stages with a win over New Zealand on Monday, face 2014 semi-finalists South Africa who topped Group B.
Australia have won the tournament four times, England won the inaugural edition back in 2009 and India have reached the final four on three occasions. The two match winners will then go into the final, to be played on March 8 -- International Women's Day -- at the MCG.
The Indian eves have been on a roll in the ongoing tournament. After defeating defending champions Australia in the opening game, they haven't looked back and registered comprehensive wins against Bangladesh, New Zealand and Sri Lanka to finish the group stage at the top.
Former Australia pacer Brett Lee feels Harmanpreet Kaur-led Team India will enter the semifinals with a lot of confidence as they have match-winners like Shafali Verma and Poonam Yadav and it will require "an excellent team" to stop them from making it to the finals of the ongoing Women's T20 World Cup.
"We saw from the opener against Australia just how good India can be, and it's no surprise they've continued that form to top Group A," said Lee in an ICC column.
"They've never reached the final, but this is a different India team from the one they've seen before. They've combined match-winners in Shafali Verma and Poonam Yadav with consistent players with both bat and ball," he added.
16-year-old Shafali has so far scored 161 runs in the four innings at a strike rate of 161. She has hit 18 fours and 9 sixes and has played crucial role in India's progress to the last-four stage.
In the bowling department, leg-spinner Poonam has been on a roll and the tormentor-in-chief for the opposition teams. She is tournament's leading wicket-taker so far and has made nine scalps.
"We've always known they have some of the best players in the world, but now Harmanpreet Kaur has a team around her that can support the big players, and fill in the gaps when they have an off day
"They'll go into the semi-finals full of confidence and it will take an excellent team to stop them from reaching the final," he added.
According to the former Australian speedster, the addition of Shafali has brought a fearless energy to the Indian batting line-up.
"Shafali Verma has been excellent at the top of the order, she's brought a fearless energy to India's batting and been brilliant to watch," said Lee.
"You feel she can go even bigger as well -- she hasn't reached 50 yet, which is both exciting for those watching and worrying for the bowlers!"
India will take on either South Africa or England in the first semi-final at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.