“I think India are well placed to upset Australia” – Anjum Chopra ahead of the women’s T20 final

After beating hosts England by four runs in a thrilling semi-final on Saturday (6 August) at Birmingham’s Edgbaston Cricket Ground, the Indian women’s cricket team meets in the final of the Inaugural Commonwealth Games (CWG) women’s T20 competition at same place on Sunday evening (7 August).

The Australian side, led by Meg Lanning, secured their ticket to the summit battle with a five-wicket win over New Zealand in the other semi-final. The Southern Stars have won four of their last five T20Is against India while one game was washed out. Australia have even defeated India in the past in the CWG, the Asian team’s only defeat in the tournament so far.

The final of the recent women’s T20 World Cup in 2020 also included the two sides but it was not a happy match for India as they suffered a heavy 85-run defeat at Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Can the Women in Blue turn the tide and make history by winning their first multi-nation event final? in a (n Exclusive chat with Sportskeeda Hours before the final, former Indian cricket captain Anjum Chopra spoke about India’s chances against Australia No. 1 team, Harmanpreet Kaur’s captaincy and what a CWG gold would mean for women’s cricket in India.

Chopra was a prolific hitter for India between 1995 and 2012. He competed in 12 Tests, 127 ODIs and 18 T20Is, scoring 3,645 international runs.

Here are the excerpts:

Q: When Natalie Sciver and Amy Jones batted well at halftime in the England innings. Did you expect India to win the game?

Chopra: Not the halftime mark but I was a little worried about how we bowled in the first four overs. More than the partnership between Amy Jones and Nat Sciver, I would say the start England have had was more concerning.

Throughout the game, I wondered how the faster bowlers would meet their four-over quota. Meghna Singh only threw two overs and I had a feeling Pooja Vastrakar could be close too.

Q: Three England batters (Alice Capsey, Natalie Sciver and Amy Jones) are out. Do you think they collapsed under pressure?

Chopra: Capsey’s exit can’t even be called a mistake. It was weird. Except for her, everyone else was patiently on the ground. She was the only one running (laughs). That was probably the opportunity that arose for India. Had she continued hitting the way she was alongside Danielle Wyatt, it would have been more of a concern for India. But with Capsey running out like that and then Sciver coming in, that put pressure on England.

They were close anyway as Heather Knight wasn’t playing. The firings of Wyatt and Capsey offered the opening to India. I wouldn’t say it was a case of hara-kiri as English women play a lot of international cricket.

Q: How do you rate Harmanpreet Kaur’s role as captain of the Commonwealth Games?

Chopra: She gets better with every trip. She has now received the Indian captain’s armband in all formats. I think that should have happened many years ago and I’ve been very vocal about it. She seems to have a sense of security in her captaincy, which is the hallmark of all good captains. If you play well, you take control of the team and earn the respect of every player.

It’s good to see the current approach of the team. There used to be less aggression, but now every player has grown in capability over the last year and a half. They know how to get ahead and I like that aggressive mindset. It’s controlled aggression and Harman allows each individual to thrive in their own unique way.

This new, aggressive approach is contagious @BCCIwomen. Her ever-growing faith is leading the way for her strong body language on the ground. Her smile shows her ‘happy space’ #CWG2022. Keep it up team!

Q: Odds are good against India as Australia lead the head-to-head record 17-6 in the women’s T20I. How do you rate India’s chances in today’s fight for the gold medal?

Chopra: I don’t know the stats but I do know that Australia had the upper hand over India. Look, they are the world champions. There is no denying that they are a very strong team. The way they pursued the goal against us in the first game showed their strength.

Everyone understands that Australia are the strongest team in the world at the moment. That means when you go into a competition, you don’t look at your opponent’s strengths. You look at their weaknesses. I’m sure the Indian team will look at Australia’s weaknesses and their own strengths.

In every CWG match, one or the other from the Indian camp raised their hand. When you’re up against a champion team like Australia, you need to get your A-game out. I think India is well positioned to anger Australia. If you ask me, I would say they can beat the world champions. It’s a tournament final, so both teams will come out strong.

Q: India has not yet won a Women’s World Cup. What does a CWG gold mean for women’s cricket in India, especially in the year leading up to the first women’s IPL?

Chopra: A CWG Gold Medal means only a CWG Gold Medal. Nothing more than that. Yes, it will give a huge boost to the Indian girls and bring a lot of joy to the country. Our athletes are doing well in the running CWG, and as we speak we’re fighting for gold medals in many more disciplines.

We are an Indian contingent here. We didn’t go to Birmingham like the Indian women’s cricket team. A gold medal is only added to the gold medals won by our athletes. Victory in the final will bring a lot of positivity and attention to Indian women’s cricket. When you win, many good things follow.

Q: Most Indian cricketers have done well at the CWG so far. Is there a specific player who you think can make a big difference in the final?

Chopra: Everyone has to do their bit here. For me, Harmanpreet Kaur gets the most attention because she is a seasoned activist. At the end of the day, it’s not just one person’s game.

When you compete against a world champion team, you have to be good in all areas. A knock like this doesn’t happen every day. Those innings blew Australia away in the 2017 World Cup semi-finals. If that happens, that’s good. But usually you don’t prepare for it. You want everyone to contribute.

The good thing is that India knows Australia’s strengths and played well in the first game. But that’s in the past now. When you play a final, you have to repeat all the good things you did and make sure you put in your best game of the day. “I think India are well placed to upset Australia” – Anjum Chopra ahead of the women’s T20 final

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