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Georgia Wareham of Australia celebrates with team mates after taking the wicket of Sophie Devine of New Zealand during the ICC Women's T20 Cricket World Cup match between Australia and New Zealand at Junction Oval on March 02, 2020.
T20 World Cup

Brett Lee: What a comeback Australia have produced!

Column

From the opening game between the hosts and India at Sydney Showground, we’ve seen what it means to have big support and it’s only going to get better.

Looking ahead to the final, I think the tournament is on track to get a huge crowd at the MCG which will be a fitting end to an already amazing tournament.

Before that, however, we’ve got two semi-finals featuring four excellent teams to look forward to in a Sydney Cricket Ground double-header.

As a former Australian international, I’m thrilled that Meg Lanning and the girls have made it – and what a comeback they’ve produced to do so. Losing the first game and under the expectation of a home crowd – you don’t get pressure greater than that. Lanning and the team have said they enjoy the pressure, they thrive upon it, but to go out and produce that when you have everything to lose is so commendable.

Every member of that team has produced when required, the strength with bat and ball is really encouraging and they boast a lot of momentum.

Video Highlights 02 Mar 20
WT20WC: Aus v NZ - Australia edge into semis

We saw from the opener against Australia just how good India can be, and it’s no surprise they’ve continued that form to top Group A. They’ve never reached the Final but this is a different India team from the one they’ve seen before. They’ve combined match-winners in Shafali Verma and Poonam Yadav with consistent players with both bat and ball.

We’ve always known they have some of the best players in the world but now Harmanpreet Kaur has a team around her that can support the big players, and fill in the gaps when they have an off day. They’ll go into the semi-finals full of confidence and it will take an excellent team to stop them from reaching the Final.

Shafali Verma has been excellent at the top of the order, she’s brought a fearless energy to India’s batting and been brilliant to watch. You feel she can go even bigger as well – she hasn’t reached 50 yet, which is both exciting for those watching and worrying for the bowlers!

Video Massive shots 28 Feb 20
WT20WC: The best of Shafali Verma's big hits

Speaking of runs, England’s experienced pair of Heather Knight and Natalie Sciver have shown just how class they are. From ball one the pair have been exceptional with more runs than anyone in the tournament. With Sciver, scoring three half-centuries in four matches is top consistency – and her ability to play all around the ground really stands her out. England have fought well to come back from the South Africa loss but they’ll still be looking for more of their batters to contribute.

I’ve been very impressed with their spinners as well – Sophie Ecclestone and Sarah Glenn are both very young but they’ve shown their class in this tournament. Australian pitches aren’t always easy for spinners but the two have worked excellently in tandem, and it bodes very well for England in the years to come, as well as in the knockout stages.

Video Century 26 Feb 20
WT20WC: Eng v Tha - Heather Knight brings up her maiden T20I ton
Heather Knight brings up her maiden T20I ton against Thailand

But you also can’t discount South Africa, either. They were probably underdogs heading into the tournament but they seem to relish going under the radar. In Lizelle Lee and Dane van Niekerk, they’ve got a great blend in their openers and the captain has shown how well she can lead in all areas. Their first win over England shouldn’t be overlooked, and they’ve shown how much they’ve learnt since the last World Cup.

And as a former fast bowler, I’ve really enjoyed watching Shabnim Ismail – few steam in quite like she does and having her pace always offers a point of difference in a bowling attack.

So with four high-quality teams battling it out in the knockout stages, it’s anyone’s guess who will win the title. Australia have historically led the way but one thing this tournament has shown is how much stronger the teams around them are.

The quality throughout has been exceptional – and I can see that getting better and better in what will be a wonderful two days of matches in Sydney and Melbourne.

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