Action in the ICC Women's World Twenty20 gets hectic as losing finalists from 2009 and 2010 takes on tournament's dark horses
New Zealand, losing finalists in 2009 and 2010, opens its campaign at the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2012 against West Indies, touted to be the tournament’s dark horses, on Wednesday.
New Zealand, coming off a convincing win in its warm-up game against India on Sunday, will have to guard against rustiness, given that its last international outing was in March. However, going by training drills and performance in the warm-ups, it has nothing to worry about in terms of form or fitness. The dominating form of Suzie Bates, the captain, seems to have rubbed off on the team, who underwent a two-hour fitness and net session in Matara on Tuesday.
The entire process was overseen by Shane Bond, the team's bowling coach, who took it through a series of drills, both for fitness and match simulation. "We're lucky to have Shane on board," said Bates. "His preparation and work ethic has rubbed off on the girls. He has had a very positive influence on the team."
Bates and Sophie Devine will be the talismans of the batting line-up that possesses enough depth and class, while Frances Mackay adds firepower as a genuine all-rounder. Coming in on the back of a fruitful preparatory camp will also help New Zealand.
"Obviously, conditions in Sri Lanka are a lot different to the ones we experience at home," said Bates. "We had a 10-day camp here last month, where we played against the Sri Lankan and Australian women's teams and a few men's teams. Hopefully we've picked up as much as we can and adjusted our game plans accordingly."
West Indies, on its day, can beat any team. But, it’s coming off a disappointing 4-1 series loss to England in Twenty20 Internationals. Throughout its tour of England, batting was a major concern. In five matches, it could cross 100 only twice.
Despite that, Merissa Aguilleira, the captain, believes the side is capable of turning around its fortunes. "I must say inconsistency got the better of us in England, and I'm happy it happened before we got here,” said Aguilleira. “It was an eye opener.”
Key to its chances will be the form of Stafanie Taylor, who was named the ICC Women's ODI Cricketer of the Year, Deandra Dottin and Aguilleira herself. "We have a lot of talent in the batting, but having said that we haven't really put enough runs on the board to give ourselves an opportunity to win,” said Aguilleira. “It is important to set a solid foundation.”
Given the rain that has been hovering around Galle over the past week, both teams will consider should the possibility of a truncated fixture. That means the toss could be vital, given the advantage that the chasing team usually has under the Duckworth-Lewis method.