Schutt relishes prospect of England semi-final

Megan Schutt helped Australia to their third win of the tournament with figures of 3 for 29 © IDI/Getty Images

Megan Schutt, Australia’s Player of the Match against Ireland in Delhi, has welcomed the prospect of a probable semi-final showdown with England at the same venue on Wednesday, after helping put her team’s quest for a fourth consecutive World T20 title back on track with figures of 3 for 29 in a comfortable seven-wicket victory.

Australia’s victory, which was wrapped up with 40 balls to spare, has drawn them back level with New Zealand on six points in Group A. However, New Zealand – who beat Australia by six wickets in Nagpur on Monday – still have a game in hand and will be strong favourites to top the group when they take on South Africa in Bangalore.

Assuming there are no further upsets in the women’s draw, England will finish top of Group B if they can overcome Pakistan in Chennai on Sunday, which means that the only two teams ever to have won the women’s World T20 are on course to tussle for a solitary place in the final. England won the inaugural event at Lord’s in 2009, but Australia have claimed each of the last three titles, in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

“It’s always a good match-up whenever we play England,” Schutt said. “I don’t think there’s ever been a match when either of us has blown the other out of the park. No matter what the conditions are, we will both have to adapt, but I think it will be a cracking game.”

Schutt admitted that her team’s prior knowledge of the conditions at the Feroze Shah Kotla could prove to be handy on Wednesday, and backed her team’s spinners, Jess Jonassen and Kirsten Beams, to put the squeeze on a slow surface. Alongside the medium pace of Rene Farrell, who took 2 for 11, the trio conceded just 39 runs in their 12 mid-innings overs.

“Obviously it’s a bit of an advantage to see the ground before the opposition,” Schutt said. “I think here in the subcontinent it is very effective having the spinners, getting though overs quick, bowling back to back while tying down the runs. Hopefully we can keep up that strategy going forward.”

On Australia’s overall campaign, Schutt insisted they were back in control of their destiny following their “hiccup” against New Zealand, even though there remains an outside chance that South Africa, who have two games in hand, could yet squeeze them out of the knockouts with back-to-back wins.

However, the speed of today’s victory was a boon to Australia’s net run-rate, which Schutt admitted had been at the back of the team’s thoughts.

“We were all thinking about it,” she said. “Obviously we have to win the game first and that was what we went out there to do today. The batters did really well to chase it down as quickly as they could and it’s in the hands of the other game now.

“Obviously we had a bit of a hiccup against New Zealand but I’d rather get that out of the way in the group stages than the semi-finals. Obviously there’s lots of improvement to go, we still haven’t put out that perfect game, but hopefully we can produce that if results go our way and we get to the semi.”

England haven’t been at their best throughout the tournament either. Twice they have taken apparently comfortable run-chases down to the wire, including an inordinately tight finish against West Indies in Dharmasala on Thursday, and Schutt was hopeful of preying on their anxieties if they do end up meeting in Delhi next week.

“I was watching their run chase the other night,” she said. “It came down to the last ball and the last wicket, so hopefully we can get them juggling those wickets as well.”

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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