Day 12 – Wednesday, July 5
England v South Africa, Bristol
India v Sri Lanka, Derby
Australia v Pakistan, Leicester
Match in focus – England v South Africa
Where India and Australia are on course to sealing semi-final spots with three wins in three games so far, the other two places are up for grabs. Both England and South Africa will have their eyes on it, and Wednesday’s game between the two teams will make a strong case for the winner.
South Africa, having already had its game against New Zealand washed out, will have looked at the rain clouds over Bristol and the covered middle with some trepidation on Tuesday. The forecast for match day is slightly better, fortunately for it.
If anything, a potentially cloudy morning could help it if it bowls first; even in the sun, Marizanne Kapp got remarkable swing while Shabnim Ismail was all fire in the demolition job of Windies on Super Sunday, and Dane van Niekerk, the leg-spinner, made history by picking up four wickets without conceding a run despite not bowling at her best.
The confidence from that kind of ten-wicket drubbing is ideal for a team hoping to overturn its 17 losses from 18 games stat against England. But, a game that lasts all of 31.4 overs comes with its own friendly warnings. South Africa’s big concern going into Wednesday’s game is lack of time in the middle; the last time it played a full 100-overs contest was nine days ago when it beat Pakistan in a thriller. Sune Luus, one of its highest wicket-takers in recent times, has only bowled four overs all tournament.
England, meanwhile, has had a chance to show off every aspect of its strong game. Since the opening-day loss to India, it has posted 377 and chased down 206 in a little over 30 overs. Heather Knight leads the batting list with three 45-plus scores, one of them a century. Natalie Sciver, Fran Wilson and Sarah Taylor have all been among the runs and the bowlers are finding momentum.
A fresh surface is being used for this game, and this could give England’s batting the edge.
There are no injury concerns for either team. For England, Taylor’s first half-century since her return was especially heartening, and might signal a return to No. 3 for her, with a fit again Lauren Winfield keeping her place at the top as England aims to settle on its opening stand. Laura Marsh, the experienced off-spinner, was brought in against Sri Lanka’s train of left-handers and found success with four wickets. But England could well bring back Alex Hartley, the left-arm spinner, for this game.
Players in focus
England: Katherine Brunt: England’s new-ball bowler was taken for 50 runs in her seven overs by India in the opening game. She’s come back well since then, conceding just 46 runs in her 16 overs in the next two games. That, however, should come as little surprise, considering the vast experience the 32-year-old brings. With South Africa’s pacers causing much excitement, she might be keen to show the young pretenders what the original is about.
South Africa: Shabnim Ismail: Ismail is right up there in the contest to be the fastest bowler in the world. Fiery with the new ball, she has a knack of giving South Africa crucial breakthroughs; she threw the game open last time – against Windies – with the wickets of the in-form Hayley Matthews and Stafanie Taylor.
What they said
Dane van Niekerk, South Africa captain: It would have been great to get some net time, but that’s the nature of the World Cup in England. It’s not always ideal (to win a game quickly) but the performance itself gave us a bit of confidence and momentum and that’s what you look for in a long tournament like this. England’s batting has been brilliant and we’ve been watching it closely. We also know we’ve to be on top of our game.
Mark Robinson, England coach: I’m sure they’ve grown in the same way that I hope we have. Obviously, a very good bowling team, two outstanding bowlers up front. Our job is to impose ourselves on them, but equally sometimes, you’ve got to be aware of the surface, the wicket and everything else. A good team, well organised and well led, so they’re going to be a threat to us, but you try and concentrate on your own team as much as you can.
England: Heather Knight (capt), Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Sarah Taylor (wk), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Danielle Hazell, Beth Langston, Laura Marsh, Anya Shrubsole (vice-capt), Natalie Sciver, Fran Wilson, Danielle Wyatt, Lauren Winfield.
South Africa: Dane van Niekerk (capt), Trisha Chetty (wk), Moseline Daniels, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Shabnim Ismail, Nadine de Klerk, Lizelle Lee, Sune Luus, Raisibe Ntozhake, Mignon du Preez, Andrie Steyn, Chloe Tryon, Laura Wolvaardt.
Australia v Pakistan
Australia, the defending champion, will look to continue its winning streak and make it four in four when it faces Pakistan in its next encounter in Leicester. Australia is currently placed at second place behind India with six points after defeating Windies, Sri Lanka and New Zealand in its first three matches. Pakistan, on the other hand, will face a battle for survival as it is yet to get off the mark, having suffered defeats against South Africa, England and India. It pushed South Africa hard, and impressed with its bowling against India with Nashra Sandhu's 4 for 26 taking centre stage. It will hope for its batters to contribute in equal measure as it hopes to get in among the points.
What they said
Ellyse Perry, Australia allrounder: We haven’t really spoken about any other match apart from the one ahead of us. Every match is a bit of a challenge. We’ve seen teams knock one another off with it being a bit unexpected. Going into this tournament, I think that was a reality because of this format and the way the game has developed in the last four years.
Sana Mir, Pakistan captain: We are gutted with the results (so far). We played good cricket in the first game (against South Africa) and first half of the third game (against India). That's what sports teaches you – that you have to get back up again. Now we'll play more for pride and for our country and we'll come with fighting spirit. What's more important is handling pressure on the big stage. Australia play a ruthless brand of cricket. They are disciplined in their bowling and fielding. When it comes to batting, they're aggressive. That's the challenge we'll face.
Australia: Meg Lanning (capt), Sarah Aley, Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton, Alex Blackwell, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington.
Pakistan: Sana Mir (capt), Asmavia Iqbal, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Ghulam Fatima, Iram Javed, Javeria Wadood, Kainat Imtiaz, Marina Iqbal, Bibi Nahida, Nain Abidi, Nashra Sundhu, Sadia Yousaf, Sidra Nawaz (wk), Waheeda Akhter.
India v Sri Lanka
Sitting at the top of the table, India goes into the match against Sri Lanka as the firm favourite and with an eye on going further towards cementing its semi-final spot. India was restricted to 169 in its previous outing against Pakistan, but a strong bowling performance, led by Ekta Bisht who returned with figures of 5 for 18 in her ten overs, saw it bundle Pakistan out for just 74. Sri Lanka, despite losing all its three games, has had shades of individual brilliance including a swashbuckling 178 not out by Chamari Athapaththu in the game against Australia. It will, however, hope for a better team performance, as it looks to stop the Indian juggernaut when the two teams meet in Derby.
What they said
Mithali Raj, India captain: We definitely will look into the fact that we don’t lose wickets back-to-back because that puts a lot of pressure on the incoming batters as well as the team. We need to work on our partnerships as batters. In terms of bowling, the spinners have been doing well, (against Pakistan) the pacers looked better than the last two games so it depends which wicket we play on against Sri Lanka. If it’s a fresh wicket, then we have different plans for it.
Inoka Ranaweera, Sri Lanka captain: At the moment India is doing really well so we’ll definitely have to play very good cricket against them to win. As a team though we’re in good condition, we are batting really well compared to the last few years. We managed to get over 200 against Australia and England, which is a big thing for us. We’ll be trying to do our best as a team against India.
India: Mithali Raj (capt), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Mona Meshram, Nuzhat Parween, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Raut, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma (wk), Poonam Yadav.
Sri Lanka: Inoka Ranaweera (capt), Chamari Athapaththu, Chandima Gunaratne, Nipuni Hansika, Ama Kanchana, Eshani Lokusooriya, Harshitha Madhavi, Dilani Manodara, Hasini Perera, Chamari Polgampala, Udeshika Prabodani, Oshadhi Ranasinghe, Shashikala Siriwardena, Prasadani Weerakodi (wk), Sripali Weerakkody.