India confident ahead of likely semi-final against Australia, says Kaur

India joined England as qualifiers from Group Two with both sides having won three matches.

Updated - February 22, 2023 06:28 pm IST

Published - February 21, 2023 04:27 am IST - Gqeberha, South Africa

India’s Harmanpreet Kaur in action during the Women’s T20 World Cup.

India’s Harmanpreet Kaur in action during the Women’s T20 World Cup. | Photo Credit: AP

Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur said on Monday she looked forward to a likely Women's T20 World Cup semi-final against defending champions Australia.

India qualified for the last four when they beat Ireland by five runs on a rain-adjusted target in their last group match at St George's Park in Gqeberha.

India joined England as qualifiers from Group Two with both sides having won three matches.

England, however, still have to play Pakistan in Cape Town on Tuesday. Victory would guarantee them top spot but they are likely group winners even if they lose because of a superior net run rate.

Australia have already won Group Two, so are almost certain to play India as runners-up in Group One in the semi-finals.

Ms. Kaur said India had gained confidence from having played Australia in a series in India last season, despite only winning one game -- and that was on a super over.

She pointed out that all teams, including champion sides like Australia, were under pressure in World Cup games.

"The brand of cricket we played (against Australia) gave us a lot of confidence," said Ms. Kaur. "We have a fair idea of how we have to go about the next game and we will make our plans accordingly."

Smriti Mandhana hit a T20 international career-best 87 as India made 155 for six. Ireland were with 54 for two from 8.2 overs, with Gaby Lewis 32 not out, when rain ended play.

A strong, swirling wind made conditions difficult and Ms. Mandhana was dropped four times in the outfield during a 56-ball innings which included nine fours and three sixes.

Teenage prodigy Shafali Verma struggled again at the top of the batting order, making 24 off 29 balls, but Ms. Kaur said she remained a key player.

"We always encourage her to express herself. Whenever she clicks we are always into the game. In practice she is batting well. We know how important she is," said Ms. Kaur.

Ireland made a disastrous start to their reply when Amy Hunter was run out off the first ball of the innings, attempting a second run after hitting the ball to midwicket.

Four balls later Prendergast was bowled by Renuka Thakur without scoring.

But Ms. Lewis and captain Laura Delany, who earlier took three for 33, shared a spirited unbeaten partnership of 53.

Ms. Delany admitted that they had been unaware of how close they had been to a possible winning situation.

"The weather changed so quickly," she said.

Although Ireland lost all their matches, Ms. Delany said they had made progress since their first World T20 in 2018.

"We were not on a level playing field then," she said. "Now we have contracts and things are heading in the right direction."

Ms. Delany said Ireland needed to work hard on several aspects of their game, particularly fielding.

"We need to put ourselves under more pressure in training and to play with freedom and confidence," she said.

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