Having secured a spot in the semi-finals, unbeaten India will be keen to keep up that winning momentum when they take on Sri Lanka in their final Group A encounter of the 2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup at the Junction Oval in Melbourne on Saturday (February 29).
India have batted first in all the three encounters and despite Shafali Verma's heroics at the top, the Women in Blue have ended up with below-par totals. The 16-year-old opener hasn't scored a single fifty in this tournament but has contributed in all the three games and was named player of the match against Bangladesh and New Zealand. Shafali has so far scored 114 runs at a strike rate of 172.72 and saying all her three knocks have been impactful would be an understatement.
While Shafali has been at her blistering best, the likes of Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma and wicketkeeper-batter Taniya Bhatia too have come up with handy contributions in one match or the other. However, the real reason India are still unbeaten in this showpiece event is because of their bowlers. Apart from that one over against Amelia Kerr on Thursday, legspinner Poonam Yadav has had a dream tournament. She still is the tournament's leading wicket-taker, followed by her teammate Shikha Pandey.
Poonam averages 13.06 in the 11 T20Is she has played against Sri Lanka, while Shikha too has been fairly economical. The latter was the only frontline seamer India played against the White Ferns and it was Shikha who held her nerves in the final over against Kerr to ensure India ended on the right side of the result. India played two left-arm spinners - Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Radha Yadav - against New Zealand and the two played their part to perfection.
India have been known to rely too much on Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur but the two have hardly contributed in this competition. The duo scored 47.91, 26. 45 and 31.89 percent of the team runs in India's last three T20I series prior to the World Cup, which drops down to just 7.86 percent in this event. India will need their two senior-most batters to find some form against Sri Lanka before going into the semi-finals. India have started with a bang in all three matches but haven't been able to capitalise on that at the death, and that's where Harmanpreet will have to chip in.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka have lost both their matches and are almost out of the tournament. The Islanders also have a poor record against India in T20Is and haven't beaten them since March 2014, having played 10 games in between. In fact they have lost their last 12 T20 internationals. As expected, skipper Chamari Athapaththu has done most of the scoring for Sri Lanka, while other batters have simply not been able to keep up. She scored 41 and 50 against New Zealand and Australia respectively but hardly found any support from other batters.
And unlike India, the Sri Lankan bowlers couldn't defend those totals posted by their batting group. Every single member of the Sri Lankan team will have to step up and fight as a unit if they want to compete against an in-form India.
India - With not a single left-handed batter in New Zealand's playing XI, India played both Radha and Gayakwad and the two left-arm spinners were equally good. India however might play one of Pooja Vastrakar or Arundhati Reddy against Sri Lanka in place of one of these spinners.
Sri Lanka - The likes of Hasini Perera, Nilakshi de Silva and Sugandika Kumari have under-performed so far in this tournament and Sri Lanka might try out other options from the bench.
India - Smriti Mandhana, Shefali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Deepti Sharma, Veda Krishnamurthy, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Shikha Pandey, Arundhati Reddy/Pooja Vastrakar, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav/Rajeshwari Gayakwad.
Sri Lanka - Shashikala Siriwardene, Chamari Athapaththu (c), Udeshika Prabodhani, Nilakshi de Silva/Sathya Sandeepani, Hasini Perera, Ama Kanchana, Harshitha Madavi, Anushka Sanjeewani (wk), Sugandika Kumari, Kavisha Dilhari, Umesha Thimashini.