England is peaking in time as the ICC Women’s World Cup moves into the Super Six stage on Friday. The defeat to Sri Lanka served as a wake-up call in the group phase, after which the champion has recovered focus, and beat West Indies rather comfortably.
Australia will be the first serious test of the depth in England’s bowling resources. The sting in the attack nailed India at Brabourne, and swing bowlers stepped up to strangle West Indies at the BKC ground.
England’s ability to bowl sides out using variety and guile makes the team a mighty force.
India was restricted to 240 as the champion defended 272 in style, with medium-pacer Katherine Brunt (four for 29) dealing deadly blows and off-spinner Danielle Wyatt (two for 52) lopping off the tail.
The West Indies batters were at sea on a seaming BKC track, Anya Shrubsole (four for 21), Brunt (two for 10) and Arran Brindle (three for zero) excelled in helpful conditions and used the movement to trip an explosive batting line-up.
England returns to Brabourne for the Super Six, and the bowlers will operate in familiar settings.
Brindle summed up the mood in the camp saying: “We know the lines and the lengths that we need to bowl to perform well. So we are very fortunate; we are just looking to make sure that we execute our plans.”
The bowlers take their cue from skipper Charlotte Edwards, an inspirational leader.
She showed character with a century against India under difficult circumstances, guided her team through pressure situations and confirmed her status as a big-match player.
Edwards stands as a major obstacle for Australia.
The Antipodeans have had a head start, being the only side with an all-win record among six qualifiers. Teams carry forward points earned against sides qualifying from the same group — South Africa and New Zealand in Australia’s instance. Australia heads the Super Six qualifiers with four points already.
“I am confident about our middle-order coming good in the coming games,” said skipper Jodie Fields.
Brabourne will be a new venue for Australia which played its group games in Cuttack.
Fields said: “We look forward to carrying the momentum of three wins in the Super Six. Every game is important from now on.”
Australia looks a settled side with roles clearly defined. Meg Lanning, Jess Cameron and Rachael Haynes prop up the batting.
The side’s adaptability to the conditions at Brabourne will decide if it progresses.
All-rounder Lisa Sthalekar feels the warm-up matches will come in handy. “I guess they (England) have had a few more matches to really get an idea of the pitch and the conditions,” she said, adding, “Our warm-up match was good enough preparation.”
The Pune-born New South Wales all-rounder is not losing sleep over how the track will behave.
“What I have been able to see through the televised matches and our warm-ups is that there is a bit of turn in the wicket, which kind of excites me as a spinner. We have good insights on what the wicket will hold up,” she said.
The seaming track will play a huge role in Sri Lanka’s Super Six tie against New Zealand at the BKC.
Neither side will commit the faux pas the West Indies made by batting on winning the toss.
Lanka is unpredictable, though. The side brought down England and India in Group A to emerge as the surprise qualifier.