Tri-series takeaways: What Australia, England and India learnt
Ahead of the men’s Cricket World Cup in 2015, Australia, England and India played a tri-series in which, India failed to win a single game and were knocked out in the league stage. However, following that, in the World Cup, the team had an incredible run experiencing their first loss in the semi-final against Australia.
In the lead up to the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020, the same three teams played a series with the Aussies emerging victorious. This time, it was England who were knocked out. Can England then be happy and point towards Indian men’s team’s run and hope to make the semis? Or will things be different this time around?
It certainly won’t be far from the truth to say that most people will have all of Australia, England and India as three of their four picks for the semi-finals of the World Cup. However, much will depend on how much each squad has learnt from their recent experiences.
Women’s CricZone looks at some of the takeaways for the sides from the tri series:
Australia sure have riches to choose from when picking their playing XI. The options Meg Lanning has at her disposal give her the freedom and the scope to opt for ‘horses for courses’. It’s a luxury that allowed Australia to opt for ‘less pace’ against England and ‘more pace’ against India. While the ‘gentler’ fast bowler in Delissa Kimmince turned up in the first game against England, she made way for the quicker Tayla Vlaeminck, who rattled the Indian batters with her pace and bounce in the following encounter.
Expectedly, Australia don’t have a ‘settled combination’ so to say, but it is about who fits the jigsaw puzzle the best on a given day.
“It’s really important that we continue to give players chances for players to develop,” said Lanning after winning the series. “We play some very different teams in this World Cup, who have very different styles of play. For us it will really come down to what we think the best combination is. I’m extremely confident that anyone we put on the park will do well.”
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Australia’s selections and resultant performances showcased that they have an all-round side that has its bases covered. They have the personnel who can power the side ahead on conducive tracks, like we saw in their league game against India in Melbourne. They have players who can take the side home on tracks that aid spin, as seen in their match versus India in Canberra.
To top that, Lanning’s leadership is the icing on the cake. England were coasting against them in a 133-run chase at the Junction Oval in Melbourne. That’s when she brought in Sophie Molineux to pull the game back and change the narrative. The story was similar in the final, when her move to bring back Jess Jonassen in the 15th over effected an Indian collapse.
The biggest positive through the series for India was most definitely the successful run-chase against Australia at the Junction Oval in Melbourne. On more than one occasion, WV Raman, India’s coach, has talked about giving batters the freedom to explore their boundaries, and that was on display over the last few weeks.
Another key takeaway for India would be the performance of their spinners, especially Rajeshwari Gayakwad. The absence of seamers was much talked about when India announced their squad for the T20 World Cup 2020, but the tweakers’ display will go a long way in inspiring confidence in the side, more so in the absence of Poonam Yadav. Gayakwad’s returns mean India now have a bit of a problem of plenty with regards to their spin cupboard – when Poonam returns, which of their spinners can, or will they drop?
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In a bid to give their players a feel of the conditions, India handed out opportunities to Harleen Deol as well as Richa Ghosh, even taking the bold call of dropping Veda Krishnamurthy.
It was India’s batting that really disappointed through the series – oh well, let’s not talk about fielding here – and that will be one of the things that will be on the management’s mind ahead of the T20 World Cup. If anything, India’s middle-order woes seemed to compound as the series progressed with the top order (read Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur) having to do most of the heavy lifting.
After the series against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur, England looked a settled outfit. Their batters were amongst the runs, seamers were doing their bit, spinners were taking wickets and England were back to their winning ways. In the tri-series though, it seemed as if all their plans had gone awry. For starters, Amy Jones struggled to buy a run throughout the series. Danielle Wyatt wasn’t at her fluent best either.
The batting group relied far too heavily on Heather Knight, who on most occasions managed to bail the side out of trouble and took them towards safety. The skipper aside, even Natalie Sciver chipped in sometimes. But that middle and lower-middle order had nothing much to show. In fact, they crumbled from a position of strength in their must-win clash against Australia, which knocked them out of the tournament.
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England’s spin twins, Sarah Glenn and Sophie Ecclestone, picked up five wickets each in conditions where the World Cup will be played and that is something that will please the team, who were the runners-up in the last edition. They will need to make sure they are all systems firing throughout the tournament.
The tri-series was played in two legs – one in Canberra and the other in Melbourne. At the Manuka Oval, the track for the first two games seemed conducive to batters, with 150 being a par score. But in the final game there, the spinners made merry and Australia managed to scrape home, thanks to Ellyse Perry.
In Melbourne, the Junction Oval saw the highest-scoring game of the series, where Australia couldn’t defend 173. But the next two matches seemed to indicate that it had slowed down and had a bit for the bowlers as well. If the bowlers bowled into the pitch, the odd ball did stay low or stop on the batter.
England play two of their matches in Canberra, while India plays a couple in Melbourne. Australia plays one each at both places, apart from playing at the other venues. The three teams would certainly not want this familiarity to breed contempt.
Generally, what will please the sides, especially India and England, is that they have a couple of warm-up games in which they will have the opportunity to iron out the chinks in their armour and sort out their combinations. Will the teams be able to give a better account of themselves, come the main tournament? Much remains to be seen.