The traditional powers of women’s cricket have been forced to take a step back and recognise that India and South Africa pose a significant threat at the T20 World Cup.
For both teams, the semi-finals which they have reached represent the furthest they have gone in the past.
India have swept aside Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to assure themselves top spot in their group.
South Africa shared a washout with the West Indies to avoid facing unbeaten India in the semi-finals. South Africa will, instead, face the Aussies in the semi-final. The Proteas Women have only once previously reached the last four of the T20 World Cup back at the 2014 tournament.
India, meanwhile, have reached the semi-finals for the fourth time. India have lost all three of the T20 World Cup semi-finals they have played in.
A tournament win for India or South Africa would have an enormous impact on the culture of women’s cricket beyond their borders.
For South Africans, a Proteas title win is something that can now be talk about after they broke the ICC tournament semi-final curse that blighted the green and gold. Of course, there isn’t a real curse but the knowledge that South Africans love sporting success puts all our national teams under pressure.
The Proteas have played to their strengths very well in the tournament so far, and they were helped by luck with the Windies washout.
For South Africa’s women to reach the last four of a global tournament represents punching above their weight already. A gaggle of the Proteas Women have played in the two major women’s T20 leagues, the Women’s Big Bash in Australia and the Super League in England. Outside the centrally contracted Proteas Women, the game in South Africa is almost entirely amateur.
In India progress is being made towards the establishment of a Women’s T20 League, pushing back against beliefs held by some that women shouldn’t play sport. In a country home to over 650-million women a T20 World Cup win for Harmanpreet Kaur’s side could be a shot in the arm for the sport not just in India but across the cricket-playing world.
India, like the Proteas, will first need to make the final before they even dare to dream about what lifting the trophy would mean. They will face either South Africa or 2009 World Champions England. After being stunned by the Proteas in their tournament opener, England have been sparked into life winning their remaining three group matches comfortably to reach the last four.
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