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Windies Women look to break jinx

MUMBAI – New Zealand Women will start as favourites against West Indies Women when the two teams face off in the second semifinal of the 2016 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai tomorrow.

Conversely, West Indies Women would be looking to break their semifinal jinx having been previously stalled at this juncture on four occasions.

New Zealand have hardly put a foot wrong since the main round kicked in. The Kiwis topped Group A with a perfect record, having defeated Sri Lanka, Ireland, Australia and South Africa by comprehensive margins to cruise into the semifinals. West Indies, on the other hand, have had a roller-coaster ride with three of their four games seeing a tight finish. Having said that, West Indies’ strength lies in their bowling attack. The fact that they have successfully defended two low totals – 103 and 114 – against quality teams like Pakistan and India respectively, and nearly clinched the third one against Group B table-toppers England, would give them confidence going into the semifinal.

Form and history backs New Zealand though. In their last ten T20I encounters, New Zealand have emerged victorious on nine occasions, including a morale-boosting 2-1 series win against defending champions Australia at home in the lead-up to the tournament. In their only encounter against West Indies in the World T20 semis, New Zealand crushed the hosts’ best chance by a massive 56-run margin to set up a clash with eventual winners Australia in the 2010 edition. West Indies, in fact, have made it to all three semifinals since then, but are yet to make a final appearance in the mega event.

Batting responsibilities have largely been shouldered by captain Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin, but spin has been the most potent weapon for West Indies. Having accounted for 21 of the 33 wickets that fell in their four league games, their spin attack has been the best in this tournament.

New Zealand, on the other hand, have been reliant on their power-hitters. Captain Suzie Bates, with 171 runs, is only behind her English counterpart Charlotte Edwards (202) on the tournament’s best run-scorers’ list, with vice-captain Sophie Devine and co-opener Rachel Priest giving her support. Offspinner Leigh Kasperek, their Scottish import, has been the tournament’s most successful bowler with 9 scalps.

Going by what has emerged so far, it would be fair to state that the second semifinal would be a clash between a quality spin attack and some mighty power hitters to decide whether West Indies make it to their first final or New Zealand get their third chance at creating history.

Taylor said the West Indies Women were focused on breaking the semifinals jinx.

“Today in the meeting after training, I actually said that this is the fourth time we are in the semifinals but this time around it is not actually against Australia, so that’s maybe a plus for us. We definitely want to cross this barrier. We’ve been here so many times to know how to approach it. Today in training the vibes were fantastic and that’s what I want to see going into tomorrow’s game. We just hope that we can put our best foot forward and go with all the heart,” Taylor said.

Kiwi coach Haidee Tiffen said his charges would be taking an aggressive approach to tomorrow’s encounter.

“As the coach of the side, I’ve picked players that can suit the style of cricket that we want to play. Like the men, we’re looking to play attractive, aggressive style and certainly, we’ve got players who can do that, whether with bat, ball or on the field. It’s about not only doing the basics well, but also expressing ourselves and allowing the girls to be free. As Kiwis, we’re a sporty nation, we get inspired by being out and playing any sport, to be honest. We’re here to do a job and I really want the girls to express themselves. For some players, it’s not about hitting over the top. It’s more about finesse and accessing areas of the ground in their style. We’ve got players who can put up a good total, or defend a good total. I certainly encourage the girls to express themselves. We’re not looking too far ahead. We’ve got a job to do, and both teams are back to zero. We’re really excited at the opportunity of playing tomorrow,” Tiffen said.

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