Group B in the 2020 Women's T20 World Cup promises to be hotly contested – here's why.
It’s déjà vu all over again for England, the Windies and South Africa, all of whom find themselves vying for two semi-final spots, just as they did at the 2018 edition of the tournament. This time they'll be joined by Pakistan and a qualifier.
The trio are once again expected to be among the favourites to qualify for the knockouts, but there is much to whet the appetite about their fixtures, beyond mere tournament progression.
West Indies v South Africa
The last game of the group stage could well be a humdinger. With 2018 finalists and former champions England expected to be favourites to qualify, this match between the other two could well be a de facto quarter-final. If recent history is anything to go by, the gap between the two sides is narrowing.
The Windies are ahead on overall head-to-head count 13-4, but in the last eight completed games, the sides are on level pegging. While South Africa have never beaten the Windies at a global T20 tournament, they came mighty close in 2018, restricting their opponents to 107/7 and reaching 48/1 in reply before slumping to 76 all out.
England v South Africa
As both sides’ opening game, and with more than one loss usually proving fatal in a short, sharp tournament, this game between former champions and beaten 2018 finalists England and perennial contenders South Africa is sure to be one to watch.
There could be fireworks – England set a world-record total of 250/3 against the Proteas when the two sides faced off at Taunton last June – or it could opening a tense, cagey affair, as evidenced by the classic encounter the teams played at the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup, when a first-ball, last-over boundary from Anya Shrubsole sealed a thrilling two-wicket win.
England v West Indies
In an odd sort of way, this is a game both sides might be happy to lose. West Indies beat England in a last-over thriller in the 2018 tournament, a reverse of the result from two years prior, and yet both years a victory preceded an early exit, with each crashing out at the semi-final stage to Australia.
Still, the game is sure to be hard-fought, and the questionable portent only emphasises that the sides are quite evenly matched. They are the only two sides to break the Aussies’ stranglehold on the trophy. A win in this game, as well as helping with knockout qualification, would lay down a marker to the Southern Stars that they need to watch their backs.