South Africa stand between India and semi-final spot
- Match 28: India Women v South Africa Women
- Hagley Oval, Christchurch
- Sunday 27 March, 14:00 Local Time
Mithali Raj’s side face South Africa in Match 28 of 28 in the round-robin group stage, with qualification for the semi-finals on the line.
Win and India will join South Africa in the final four by leapfrogging West Indies. Lose and there will be an early-flight home – unless England are beaten by a great enough margin against Bangladesh to sink into fifth spot courtesy of net run rate.
The fact that it has come to this will be frustrating for a touring squad who arrived in New Zealand with legitimate hopes of winning the nation’s first-ever Women’s World Cup title.
But India's three wins from six games have come against the three lowest-ranked sides in the competition, and now they must produce the biggest win of their campaign by beating an impressive and in-form South African outfit.
The size of the task isn’t fazing the India squad however, with Rajeshwari Gayakwad saying the process has been the same throughout their tournament.
“We are going match-by-match and focusing on our performance in each game," she said.
“As a team we know we can perform well and win the big games.”
Sunday’s opponents South Africa are already guaranteed a semi-final spot after losing just a single game, to Australia, during the group stage.
And the Proteas are keen to maintain their focus as they look to make it beyond a World Cup semi-final for the first time in their history.
“We still have a few things we would like to work on,” Marizanne Kapp said. “And it doesn't matter who we come up against in the semi-final, I feel that this time around we will be better prepared.
“We are looking forward to our last group game against India, and after that match our focus will shift to the semi-final, and also to see who we will play against.”
India Squad: Mithali Raj (c), Harmanpreet Kaur (vc), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh (wk), Sneh Rana, Jhulan Goswami, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh Thakur, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav
South Africa Squad: Suné Luus (c), Chloé Tryon (vc), Ayabonga Khaka, Lara Goodall, Laura Wolvaardt, Lizelle Lee, Marizanne Kapp, Masabata Maria Klaas, Mignon du Preez, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Shabnim Ismail, Sinalo Jafta, Tazmin Brits, Trisha Chetty, Tumi Sekhukhune. Travelling reserves: Andrie Steyn, Nadine de Klerk, Raisibe Ntozakhe
CWC22 DREAM11 FANTASY WATCH
Captaincy Pick – Harmanpreet Kaur
One of the leadership figures of the Indian team, Harmanpreet’s level is improving with age, and she’s a crucial part of the batting line-up. A wonderful 109 against West Indies has been the highlight of her tournament so far, but a fine 71 against New Zealand and a quality unbeaten 57* against Australia showed that she is capable of scoring big runs against the best.
Must have – Ayabonga Khaka
One of the less-heralded members of South Africa’s excellent bowling unit, Khaka’s four-wicket haul against Bangladesh was a reminder that the 29-year-old is among the world’s best bowlers. And she followed it up with two more in the win over Pakistan, as well as executing a crucial run-out, before returning impressive figures of 3/31 in the win over New Zealand. The right-arm quick is one of three South Africans in the top six of the ICC ODI Bowling Rankings, just below her compatriots Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp.
Jhulan Goswami: The veteran quick might be nudging closer to her 40th birthday, but Goswami still remains one of the most consistent seamers in women's cricket and her record in 50-over cricket supports this. Goswami picked up 10 wickets at the last ICC Women's Cricket World Cup in 2017 and remains one of the most feared bowlers in the game.
Marizanne Kapp: Rated as the third-best all-rounder in the ICC Women's ODI rankings, Kapp is crucial to South Africa’s chances of doing something special in New Zealand. Her 5/45 against England are the standout figures of her tournament so far, but she’s been excellent with the ball throughout and has chipped in well with the bat without yet going especially big.
This match will be played at the stunning Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
The famous grass bowl of a ground will also be the stage for the tournament’s second semi-final and then the final itself in April.
All eight teams at the tournament have played each other across seven rounds in a league format.
The top four teams in the standings after the conclusion of the final Group Stage matches will qualify for the semi-finals, which will be held next week.
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