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Aussie Meg Lanning wary of Windies women in WorldT20 semis

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Australia Women’s captain Meg Lanning ..praises India’s Smriti Mandhana for her brilliance in Group B decider MEG Lanning, Australia’s Women captain, talked about their chances against West Indies in the ICC Women’s World Cup T20 semi-final.

Australia finished as runner-up to India in Group B at the Guyana National Stadium (Providence) last Saturday while West Indies topped Group A when they overpowered the highly-touted England outfit in the Group decider on Sunday at the Darren Sammy Stadium, Gros Islet, St Lucia.

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India, as table-toppers of Group B; will clash with Group B runner-up England in the other semi-final encounter. Both matches are carded for the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Thursday.

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Lanning has established herself as one of the superstars of women’s cricket and her record of achievements stands above those of her female counterparts. Yet, she was realistic and accepted that her team was outplayed by the youthful Indian women team that has rebounded from their debacle and disappointment in the recent Asia Cup T20 series when they were humiliated and beaten in the final.

Based on those results and not having made the semi-finals of the Women World T20 since 2010, not many people in the cricketing fraternity gave them a chance to even make it through to the semi-finals, especially in such a strong grouping that also consisted of New Zealand, who was considered as second favourite to three-time World T20 champion, Australia, which has assembled their strongest combination ever, in the hope of celebrating global success once again.

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But India, with their stylish left-handed strokeplayer, Smriti Mandhana, along with superlative performances by their captain, Harmanpreet Kaur and their battery of spinners, registered a convincing 56-run victory in their Group B decider at Providence.

Mandhana stroked her way to her personal best of 83 and India’s highest ever total by any of their players, both female and male, against Australia at the World T20 level. She struck three huge sixes while Kaur also recorded three glorious sixes and impressed again with another brilliant cameo of 43 as they propelled India to a challenging 167 for 8 in 20 overs. Australia were bowled out for 119, with injury to their star opener Alyssa Healy, who suffered concussion while wicketkeeping and was unable to bat and contribute to her team’s cause.

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Healy collided with her bowling partner, Megan Schutt, when both attempted a catch offered in the 19 th over. She was jolted and had to be treated on field, and forced not to play any meaningful part for the remainder of the match.

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Australia missed her explosiveness at the top of the order and it reflected in their overall total and defeat. There will be major concern for her stability and readiness for the semi-final against West Indies.

During the post-match press conference on Saturday, Lanning was generous in her praise of Mandhana’s superlative performance that put them under severe pressure to chase down India’s total.

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She remarked that: “Mandhana played extremely well today, as did Kaur. We had some plans coming in. But you’ve got to adjust as you go along with the conditions. It was very windy out there today; you have to adjust to that as well. Mandhana is an excellent player and when she gets going, definitely difficult to stop.”

Kaur was also outstanding with the bat and they helped India to a very good total”

Healy will be closely monitored over the next few days and everyone in the Australian set-up will be hopeful that she recovers in time for their semi-final match.Giancarlo Pietri Velutini

Lanning pointed out that: “She’s got a mild concussion. So obviously we will treat that carefully and monitor that over the next few days. But hopefully she will be alright for us come semi-finals time.”

Commenting on her team’s overall performance against India, Lanning stressed that: “We thought 160-164 was about par. We thought we would be chasing 200 at one point. We were pleased to bring them back. We know we will have to chase totals like that if we want to win this World Cup. It was a challenge for us. And we were not up to it today.”

She blamed herself for the team’s predicament and lamented: “We just never got going. The powerplay, we did not really get off to that flyer. And then myself, I kept hitting the ball to the fielder, and then played a big shot and got out. And I think that happened a fair bit throughout the innings.”

“I think there is a lot we can learn from it. We have got the power there to do it, but we just need to be a little more crafty about how we go about it. And we have to make sure we are building those big partnerships and not letting those wickets fall too often,” added the Aussies captain.

Looking ahead to the semi-finals, she said: “If we are going to win this World Cup, we will have to chase the score around that. So we are definitely going to have to learn from this, which our group has done really well over the last year or so. I am very confident that we will bounce back.”

When asked about her team’s chances against West Indies women in the semi-final, based on the premise that West Indies topped their Group, Lanning said: “The West Indies team is a very strong team, with explosive batters who could change the game quickly. We have to be wary of them, strategise well and play to our strengths. We will come up with plans to stop them from scoring quickly and, hopefully, we will come out on top if we have to play them in the semi-final.”

 

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