Three-time champions are drawn in the same half of the tournament as India, New Zealand and Pakistan.
Australia came into the ICC Women’s World T20 2016 in India with talk of a ‘four-peat’ – aiming to win the title for the fourth edition in a row. But the Windies, with a fearless display, stopped them in their tracks.
Then, in 2017, Australia lost their hold over the 50-over World Cup as well, when a marauding Harmanpreet Kaur played the knock of a lifetime for India in the semi-final.
Now, the most successful women’s side face another tough challenge in their quest to regain silverware. They find themselves in a particularly challenging half of the draw in the ICC Women’s World T20 2018.
The WWT20 schedule announced on Monday, 25 June, puts Meg Lanning’s team in the same group as New Zealand, India, Pakistan and an as-yet-undecided qualifier. With only the top two sides moving into the next knock-out round, this, as they say in the football World Cup, would be a ‘group of death’.
Australia, winners in 2010, 2012 and 2014, begin their campaign against Pakistan, before taking on the second-placed team from the Qualifier in the Netherlands in July.
Their big challenge will be Suzie Bates’s White Ferns, against whom they have a long rivalry. New Zealand are Australia’s most familiar opponents, with the trans-Tasman neighbours facing off for the Rose Bowl ever so often. Of the 35 matches between the sides, New Zealand have won 19 to Australia’s 15. In fact, the teams will warm up for the World T20 with another bilateral series.
The Southern Stars have a favourable record against India, winning 11 of the 14 matches between the sides. But India have proved to be a temperamental T20 team. The likes of Kaur and Smriti Mandhana are among the best strikers of the ball and the conditions in West Indies could bring the slower bowlers into play. After the World Cup semi-final in Derby, Australia are likely to be extremely cautious around the Asian side.
Australia’s strength is their ability to back themselves even when they find themselves in a corner. Given how clinical they’ve always been, they will be among the favourites, as ever, to win the title.
But, there’s another stat they won’t easily forget: the Windies have won only one of the nine matches played between these sides. It just happened to be the one that mattered.
Australia’s fixtures in Women’s World T20 2018:
9 November: v Pakistan, Guyana
11 November: v Qualifier 2, Guyana
13 November: v New Zealand, Guyana
17 November: v India, Guyana