We have reached the pointy end of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019 and the semi-finals are upon us. While the qualification of Bangladesh, Thailand and Ireland in the final four was hardly ever in doubt, the performances of Papua New Guinea have surprised many. They upset Scotland in their first game of the tournament and contributed to the hosts’ exit in the league stage.
The dominance of Bangladesh, however, has not come as a surprise, and the consistency of Thailand’s wins has the cricketing world excited. The former will face Ireland on Thursday (September 5) in the first semi-final of the tournament, looking to seal one of the spots in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia early next year.
Bangladesh is yet to taste defeat, but they were given a mighty scare by PNG, who ran them close. One department which they would like to improve upon is their batting. Both Sanjida Islam and Ayasha Rahman have failed to get the team off to a good start, and the middle order hasn’t been able to contribute much either. While conditions have been overcast, and largely in favour of the bowlers, Bangladesh will want to assert themselves on the opposition with the bat as well.
Fahima Khatun played an enterprising knock against PNG, taking the attack to the bowlers – using her feet, moving around the crease and playing the field smartly. She has shown the top order how to score runs in these conditions, and they will do well to take a leaf out of her book.
Bangladesh made it two wins from two in the #T20WorldCup Qualifier after a tight finish in their game against PNG yesterday.
Watch the highlights ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/ccIto3tkam
— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) September 3, 2019
Bangladesh’s bowling is clearly their stronger suit. Through the tournament, their spinners have choked the opposition, picking up wickets through the middle with their clever variations. Young Nahida Akter, the left-arm spinner, has been their standout bowler – picking up seven wickets at an astounding average of 4.57. She has received admirable support from Khadija Tul Kubra, Fahima, and Salma Khatun who have held the other end up.
The spinners aside, Jahanara Alam, Bangladesh’s frontline seamer, has been might impressive with the new ball. She has come charging in for the defending champions and pushed the batters on the back foot. Her control, variation of angle and change of pace have been brilliant. She has kept the opposition guessing and maintained control over the scoring rate – her tournament economy rate of 3.16 an indication of the same.
In the match against USA on Sunday (September 1), Alam prised out two top order wickets and had the opposition reeling at 14 for 3. Bangladesh will hope Alam can continue her impressive run in the semi-final as well.
Ireland are coming off a gut-wrenching two-run loss to Thailand on Tuesday (September 3). That aside, they have looked a well-oiled unit with their usual suspects standing tall and rising to the occasion when needed the most. Leading from the front is skipper Laura Delany who has performed well with both bat and ball. She has received support from Kim Garth and Eimear Richardson.
One player who has surprised many with her consistent performances is Leah Paul, who has taken five wickets in just three matches at an economy rate of 4.66.
In the match against Thailand, Paul played a pivotal role in helping Ireland restrict them to 92 for 7. The left-arm spinner took three wickets giving away just 10 runs. She will look to inflict the same damage against Bangladesh’s top and middle-order batters.
The only major worry for Ireland going into the semi-final will be the form of their openers, Gaby Lewis and Orla Prendergast. The duo has collectively scored a total of 47 runs in the tournament. They will be desperate to make a mark and give Ireland a solid platform from which the likes of Garth, Mary Waldron, Delany and Richardson can launch. How they tackle Bangladesh’s spin quartet will be key.
“We were bitterly disappointed to lose in such a tight game (against Thailand),” Delany said on Wednesday (September 4). “We’ve had a few close encounters with Thailand over the last few weeks but were confident that we could get over the line yesterday. We are raring to go tomorrow and very focused on the job ahead.”
While Bangladesh will go into the clash with their noses ahead, it would be wrong to completely count Ireland out of the contest. They have in fact shown a great deal of resilience through their short campaign and will be keen to cause what may be seen as a bit of an ‘upset’ on Thursday.
Bangladesh: Salma Khatun (c), Jahanara Alam, Nahida Akter, Fargana Hoque, Sanjida Islam, Fahima Khatun, Murshida Khatun, Khadija Tul Kubra, Shobana Mostary, Ritu Moni, Ayasha Rahman, Shaila Sharmin, Nigar Sultana, Shamima Sultana.
Ireland: Laura Delany (c), Kim Garth, Shauna Kavanagh, Gaby Lewis, Sophie MacMahon, Lara Maritz, Leah Paul, Orla Prendergast, Celeste Raack, Una Raymond-Hoey, Eimear Richardson, Rebecca Stokell, Mary Waldron.