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India's Renuka Singh Thakur (right) celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of Ireland's Orla Prendergast during the Group B T20 women's World Cup match at St George's Park in Gqeberha. India face Australia tomorrow. Image Credit: AFP

Cape Town: With the group stage of ICC Womens T20 World Cup 2023 done and dusted, the knockouts will begin from Thursday with India taking on defending champions Australia in the first semi-final of the tournament at the Newlands Cricket Ground.

Left-handed opener Beth Mooney is expecting a tight clash against India in the semi-final, saying that the Harmanpreet Kaur-led side have pushed the Australian team significantly in the last few years.

“I’m expecting it to be a huge contest, they’ve pushed us significantly in the last few years, and they have a bunch of match winners in that line-up as well. We’re not expecting it to be easy by any means, whether it’s with a bat or the ball, but we certainly know the style of play they’ve come at us with in the past and they know ours pretty well, too,” Mooney was quoted as saying by

Super over

Australia had emerged victorious in the five-game T20I series in Mumbai last year by 4-1, with the only loss coming via a thrilling super over won by India. Moreover, since March 2021, Australia have lost two T20Is, both to India.

The last time these two teams met in a big tournament was during the Commonwealth Games gold medal match, where Australia beat India by nine runs in a thrilling affair at Edgbaston, Birmingham last year in August. In the warm-up game played between these two teams earlier in the month at Cape Town, Australia scored 129/8 and then bowled out India for just 86.

“There won’t be any surprises I don’t think come Thursday afternoon. I think if we do all the right things sort of today at training, and tomorrow as well, hopefully we can come into that game feeling really confident. But as we know, everyone’s starting from scratch, and no one’s got any points leading into that first semi, so we know we’ve got to be on our game from ball one,” added Mooney.

Big semi-final

Her opening partner, wicketkeeper-batter Alyssa Healy, who missed Australia’s last group match against South Africa due to quadriceps soreness, is expected to be available for the big semi-final against India.

Beth also identified India fast bowler Renuka Thakur as a huge threat due to her ability to swing the new ball. Renuka had ran through the Australian top-order, taking 4-18 during the Commonwealth Games group match last year and took a five-fer against England in the Women’s T20 World Cup group match though India lost on both occasions.

“She is certainly one we’ll have a look at as a batting unit as to how we can nullify her threat because I think she’s been pretty incredible this T20 World Cup. If we can nullify that as early as possible, then that will hopefully set us up for a big total,” she said.

“We don’t take anyone in that Indian team lightly. We’ve got to have really clear, clinical plans against them, whether it’s with the bat or the ball,” she added.