India and England have faced each other often in the past, and both need a win to smoothen the way to the semi-finals
Both India and England will have a sense of familiarity when they lock horns in a crucial game at the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2012 in Galle on Saturday (September 29). The face-off can be compared to an India-Sri Lanka contest in the men's arena, with the teams having played each other regularly over the last few years, both in India and in England.
The most recent contest was during India's tour to England, where two Twenty20 Internationals were followed by five One-Day Internationals. England proved its superiority then, and India will have to elevate its game if it has to get the better of England and keep its semi-final hopes alive.
While India was outclassed in both Twenty20 Internationals, it did manage to pull off two wins in the one-day matches. It eventually was knocked over in the remaining three matches, to concede the series. All through that tour, India’s batting was largely reliant on Harmanpreet Kaur, who has been elevated to the post of vice-captain, and Mithali Raj, the captain and the side's most experienced batter.
The failure of Jhulan Goswami to strike regularly as she once did is a concern, but with the batters failing consistently, the onus will be on them to set a good platform. "Batting in these conditions is slightly easier than in England, and we're confident of a better performance," said Raj.
India will be banking on its spinners, who hardly had a role to play against Australia. By the time they came on, the match was almost over. Given the slowness of the pitch, their form will be crucial to India's chances of restricting a strong England batting line-up.
England made its intention very clear on Thursday, with a power-packed performance against Pakistan. Charlotte Edwards, the captain, and Laura Marsh set the tone for an imposing total, and a middle order collapse notwithstanding, England appears to be the better batting unit.
"We can't read too much into that collapse, it wasn't as if we were undone by spin. We lost wickets while trying to accelerate," said Edwards.
The form of England's top three has been ominous, with Edwards, Marsh and Sarah Taylor all coming into the tournament with lots of runs, to go along with a 4-1 ODI series win over West Indies. Added to that is the middle order consisting of Arran Bridle and Lydia Greenway, giving the batting a formidable look.
While the conditions will be a lot slower, the England team management appears confident that there is nothing that counts more than match practice. "We may have played in completely different conditions, but we have an advantage because we're coming out of a lot of cricket at home," said Edwards.
Edwards admitted that the exit from the group stages in 2010 still hurts, and England will have a perfect chance to make amends by getting the better of India and smoothening its passage into the semi-finals.