Australia Women v South Africa Women World T20 preview – Match 6
Australia will hope to start off its title defence in style, while an emerging South Africa will want to build on recent highs
17 March 2016 17:31
Australia Women, the defending champion, will be keen to dispel any notion that it is not the dominant force it used to be, as it takes on an emerging South Africa in Nagpur on Friday (March 18). Both teams will be playing their first Group A games of the ICC Women’s World T20 2016 at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium at Jamtha.
On the eve of the game, the teams trained at VCA’s old stadium at Civil Lines. With the mercury hovering above 30ºC, both teams kept their sessions short, with a bit of fun to warm up. The South African ladies had a round of touch football before their session, while the Australians opted for some Aussie rules football. If they were feeling the pressure, it wasn't evident.
Australia has lost four of its last six T20 Internationals played since January, and conceded series defeats at home to India and away to New Zealand. It has not been ideal preparation in its quest for what would be an incredible fourth consecutive Women's World T20 title, but Meg Lanning, the captain, downplayed the results of the last three months.
“We're starting even with every other team at the [ICC Women's World T20 2016], we don’t get any bonuses for winning the last one. Every team starts on an even keel at a world cup,” she said.
The side's intent coming into the tournament was made clear with a dominant show in its warm-up game against the West Indies Women, which it won by 43 runs. Lanning would have been especially pleased with the performance of Kristen Beams, the legspinner, who took 3 for 9 in three overs. If the India v New Zealand men's opener in Nagpur was anything to go by, spin is likely to play a major role and Lanning will want all her three spinners to bring their A game.
South Africa Women, for its part, has registered some groundbreaking victories in the last few months. It hosted England and then the West Indies, and gave a good account of itself in both series. It came back from one game down to level the series against the English, registering its first ever T20I win against that opponent. Charlotte Edwards's side won the series, but the confidence South Africa gained was evident in the next series against the West Indies, whom it beat 2-1. That was also its first series win against the West Indies.
“Our preparation has probably been some of the best that we have had,” said Mignon du Preez, the skipper. “Also we have played at venues with conditions similar to what we get here – Durban, where it’s very humid, East London, where the wickets are lower and slower.”
South Africa will be hoping to achieve another first tomorrow, because they have never beaten Australia before. In testament to how little international cricket the women play, the two sides have only played three T20Is in their history, and all three have been at Women's World T20s.
In the last edition in Bangladesh, South Africa pipped New Zealand to enter the semifinal of the competition for the first time. It will be looking to, at least, repeat that performance this time, but first will need to crack the Australia code. The legspin of Dane van Niekerk and 20-year-old Sune Luus is likely to be crucial on a turning wicket.
“Australia will be under a lot more pressure than us. Being the world champions, they are expected to win,” du Preez fired a salvo at the pre-match press conference. “We are seen as the underdogs, so we will just go out there and execute our game plans.”
Australia: Meg Lanning (capt), Alex Blackwell (vice-capt), Kristen Beams, Lauren Cheatle, Sarah Coyte, Rene Farrell, Holly Ferling, Nicola Carey, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney, Erin Osborne, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani.
South Africa: Mignon du Preez (capt), Trisha Chetty (wk), Moseline Daniels, Dinesha Devnarain, Odine Kirsten, Yolani Fourie, Chloe Tryon, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Masabata Klaas, Ayabonga Khaka, Lizelle Lee, Marcia Letsoalo, Sune Luus, Dane van Niekerk.