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England seek to put previous WWT20 hurt behind them

Squad list


Heather Knight (capt), Tammy Beaumont, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Kirstie Gordon, Jenny Gunn, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones (wk), Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Linsey Smith, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt

World T20 pedigree


Despite winning the inaugural WWT20, England have flirted with the dreaded c-word by consistently stumbling at the finish line in subsequent tournaments. Australia proved to be their tormentor on three occasions, as they lost two finals - by four runs and six wickets - and then the semi-final of the 2016 edition by five runs. That last defeat in the Delhi heat hurt, largely because they weren't outplayed but were let down by their own fitness levels, in what should have been a comfortable run chase. But it presented England a mirror and they did not shy away from it.

In addition to fitness, winning crunch moments had been a nagging issue, and a tangible manifestation of their improvement in that regard was the two-wicket win over South Africa in the World Cup semi-final last year. Since then they have won eight of their 13 T20I matches. One of those victories came on the back of smashing 250, the highest T20I score in women's cricket, against South Africa in a tri-series involving New Zealand. England went on to win the tournament, beating a strong New Zealand side comfortably in the final.

On the face of it, all looks dandy for a progressively improving England but the loss of frontline allrounder Katherine Brunt due to injury could prove to be a major blow, particularly as they were already missing wicketkeeper-batsman Sarah Taylor, who was not included because long-standing anxiety issues.

Mark Robinson, coach of England women, addresses the huddle © Getty Images

Recent T20I form


A win rate of 60% in 2018 hides more than it reveals given that England have played just ten T20Is this year. Both were tri-nations series, the first one involving India and Australia in India and the next one at home against South Africa and New Zealand. A source of solace would be the fact that they have had a run-in with all major teams and were runners-up against Australia and India, before going a step further by beating New Zealand in the final of the subsequent tri-series.

The captain and coach


Part of the sweeping changes that followed England's WWT20 exit in 2016 was the appointment of Heather Knight as the captain in place of the long-serving Charlotte Edwards. Given that Knight has already led them to a World Cup title at home leaves little doubt about her captaincy credentials but her batting in the shortest format of the game has never been as prolific as in the longer formats. She averages 16.65, with a strike rate of 112.68, both of which require bolstering; but can also provide a bowling option with her offspin.

Mark Robinson took charge of England in 2015 and designed the blueprint to iron out the flaws that thwarted their chances at the 2016 WWT20. As well as instigating a change of captain, he encouraged senior players to step up a level, while introducing several talented youngsters to the set-up. Under him, England have become fitter, more resilient and better equipped at handling pressure than earlier teams, who were competitive but would often stumble at crucial junctures.

Natalie Sciver leans into a drive © Associated Press

Best players


Danielle Wyatt has the best strike rate among England's top-four (127.10) and she has shown good form in the warm-up match against India where she struck a fifty. If she can provide impetus during the Powerplay, the accumulators Tammy Beaumont, Nat Sciver and Knight, who all go at under 115 can play around her normally. Beaumont has also shown that she can shift gears and assume the role of the enforcer, as she did against South Africa in Taunton, where she struck 116 off 52 balls to set the tone for England's record-breaking 250 for 3. Pace-bowler Anya Shrubsole's role becomes even more important in the absence of Brunt.

Where will they finish?


Despite two notable absentees, England should have enough class to sail through to the semi-finals from a group featuring hosts West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the Asia Cup holders Bangladesh. After that, it comes down to handling those crunch moments once again.
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