Sana Mir
Media Release

Sana Mir reviews semi-finals of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier supported by Dream11

Media Release

  • Scotland and Sri Lanka captains’ pre-final photo with the tournament trophy to be available on the Online Media Zone later today

While I had predicted Ireland and Sri Lanka to confirm their tickets for Bangladesh and the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2024, I am happy to see my prediction go wrong thanks to Scotland, who produced an incredible, all-round performance and were surely the deserving winners of the first semi-final where their inspirational captain, Kathryn Bryce led from the front.

Scotland had their tactics spot-on from the first ball of the game. The Amy Hunter and Gaby Lewis dismissals were a body blow that Ireland could not recover from. The impact of losing their two main batters, who were amongst the most prolific run-getters of the group stage, was visible throughout the rest of their innings.

I was really impressed by Scotland’s homework, the Lewis dismissal seemed like a well-thought out plan as Bryce had two mid-wickets inside the circle for her, and Lewis hit the ball straight into the hands of one of them.

After restricting Ireland to 110, Scotland always had the game in control. The chase was also very well executed by them, with Megan McColl playing a great hand with an attacking 50 while her opening partner Sasika Horley ensured that early wickets were not lost. Bryce looked sublime with the bat as well and produced one of the most memorable all-round performances in Scottish women’s cricket history, in one of the biggest games that the team has ever played.

It was indeed a fitting end to have the Bryce sisters at the crease for the winning run, it was an incredibly emotional moment and the joy in the Scotland camp was heartwarming indeed, I wish them the very best for Bangladesh in what should be a great occasion for them.

In the second semi-final, the UAE put up a real fight against Sri Lanka and at times during the game, they certainly had the edge especially when Esha Oza was at the crease. In the end, Sri Lanka’s experience and big-match awareness got them through.

I think it was a bold decision by the UAE to bowl first. Despite not getting an early wicket, their bowlers started impressively. Samaira Dharnidharka, who was one of their bowling mainstays in the tournament, bowled really well and earned a lot of respect from the stalwart Chamari Athapaththu, who did hit her for a couple of sixes, but largely remained circumspect against her swinging deliveries.

The young leg-spinner Vaishnave Mahesh, provided the breakthroughs for the UAE. On the other hand, Sri Lanka were once again well served by their teenager Vishmi Gunaratne who, even at a tender age of 18, looks like a real talent with a mature head on her shoulders and is the second highest run scorer of the tournament so far with 180 runs in five innings.

Gunaratne’s 45-run innings was pivotal to Sri Lanka’s eventual score. She changed gears really well after Athapaththu’s departure and provided a platform for the middle-order batters to capitalise in the death overs. I was really impressed by the running between wickets and fitness levels of the Sri Lanka players, one of the real differences between the teams were these two crucial aspects which often determine the outcome of a high-pressure match.

Esha Oza’s innings was incredible and a treat to watch, she is a great striker of the ball and really had the Sri Lankan bowlers under pressure and bereft of answers to her onslaught. It is rare to see a batter hit four sixes in an innings with such effortless ease. As long as she was at the crease, the UAE were in the game and Sri Lanka were surely relieved to see the back of her with the match at a knife edge in the 16th over.

It was the experience of Udeshika Prabodhani as a bowler and Athapaththu as a captain which eventually ensured Sri Lanka’s qualification.

I am sure we will see a lot more of Oza on the world stage, I hope that she can take the UAE to an ICC world event soon, I feel that the team would gain a great deal of confidence from their stellar show in Abu Dhabi. The core of the side is very young with Oza herself set to lead the team for a long time, it is heartwarming to see their development and they only have upwards to go from here.

At the big final tomorrow, Scotland will come out with a lot of confidence with qualification already achieved, such wins always instil a lot of self-belief in teams, and I expect them to show real fight tomorrow. Their 10-wicket defeat in the group stage is a thing of the past and it should be a lot closer game.

From a Sri Lanka perspective it will be important for them to win the tournament and stamp their authority at this level, as they were by far the most accomplished and experienced side out of the 10 teams in the Qualifier. Top teams in the world have that ruthlessness about them and with a great of the game like Athapaththu in their ranks, I don’t see Sri Lanka dropping the ball tomorrow.

I am also looking forward to seeing Athapaththu and Bryce lead their teams from the front for one final time in the tournament, it should be an exciting contest between them especially, with Bryce taking the new ball and Athapaththu attempting her naturally aggressive game.

May the best team prevail at Zayed Cricket Stadium tomorrow!

Media ReleaseMedia Zone NewsMedia Zone LeadOnline Media Zone