West Indies plays South Africa and Sri Lanka takes on New Zealand in all-or-nothing games in ICC Women's World Twenty20
The preliminary stage of ICC Women's World Twenty20 2012 in Galle is drawing to a close with all four teams in Group B tied on points at the end of two matches, with one match left to play. Two virtual quarter-finals will be played out on Sunday when West Indies and New Zealand clash against South Africa and Sri Lanka respectively.
New Zealand and Sri Lanka's wins on Friday (September 28) have thrown the group wide open, completely negating the Net Run Rate equation, with the winners on Sunday progressing through to the semi-finals.
West Indies' loss to Sri Lanka has created a bit of a flutter in the camp, with Merissa Aguilleira, the captain, terming the loss as “an absolute shocker”. While a win may have seen it seal a semi-final berth, it still has an opportunity to make amends when it meets South Africa. "We've shown that we can be a quality side. It is just a matter of getting our heads right, throw that defeat out of our minds and refocus. The good thing is we have our fate in our own hands, even after the loss to Sri Lanka," said Aguilleira.
Once again, the team will depend heavily on Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin. But given that the middle-order hasn't spent enough time in the midde in its first two games, there is a possible chink in its armour. Aguilleira believes the team is experienced enough to adjust quickly. "Yes, the middle-order hasn't spent much time, but that also means either the batting is doing really well or poorly. We need to carry the confidence from the New Zealand game into the match," suggested Aguilleira.
While the batting has blown hot and cold, the bowlers have stuck to the job at hand. It restricted a strong New Zealand line up to 117 in its first game and had picked up three Sri Lankan wickets before rain interrupted proceedings. "The bowlers have done what is expected of them, it is time the batters live up to the reputation," said Aguilleira.
South Africa will definitely be the underdogs going into the game, but Mignon du Preez, the captain, believes it will boil down to nerves more than skill in the final group game. "Skill-wise, I think the gap between the top four and bottom four has narrowed down," said du Preez. "At this stage of the tournament, it boils down to the team's ability to handle pressure well, and that will be our biggest challenge."
The second game will see a rejuvenated Sri Lanka trying to script history and enter the semi-final of the World T20 for the first time. But they will have to overcome two-time finalists New Zealand. Shashikala Siriwardena, the captain, believes it is important for the team to play without pressure getting the better of the players. "
We shouldn't get intimidated by the opponents. It is a big match. Arjuna Ranatunga's pep talk really inspired us. We have to turn up and believe we can win," said Siriwardena. Sri Lanka looked a transformed side, especially on the field, defending a modest 48 in eight overs successfully.
Having ended runners-up on two previous occasions, New Zealand will expect to go one step further this time, and the first step towards that will be to get past Sri Lanka and book a semi-final spot.
The New Zealand batters have hit form at the right time. Its best three – Suzie Bates, the captain, Sophie Devine and Frances Mackay – have made significant contributions in the tournament so far, and are looking in dominating form. "In these conditions, Sri Lanka will be a tough team, but we believe we can beat any side on any given day. We just have to be consistent throughout," said Bates.
New Zealand, who couldn't defend 118 against West Indies after picking up two early wickets, came up with a much improved showing against South Africa. Nicola Brown, the all-rounder, stepped up and delivered when it mattered, while Devine also chipped in with two. "I think these two are very important to our side, and they've shown their worth," said Bates.
It promises to be an exciting day, but given the weather in Galle has been topsy-turvy, all teams will have to be prepared for the eventuality of truncated games.