The only team Australia’s women’s cricket team has lost to since March 2021 now stands in the way of another T20 World Cup final.

Defending champion Australia heads into the semi-final at Newlands on Thursday, as favourite, wielding a 3-2 edge over India in T20 World Cup encounters. 

Five-time winner in seven previous iterations of the 20-over showpiece, Australia is yet to drop a game at the eighth edition in South Africa.

But according to batter Beth Mooney, recent precedents of coming up short against India, runners-up of the 2020 T20 World Cup, leaves no room for complacency.

“I’m expecting it to be a huge contest, obviously,” Mooney said in Cape Town on Tuesday.

“They have pushed us significantly in the last few years and got a bunch of match-winners in their line-up as well. So, we’re not expecting an easy game by any means.

“As we know, [in] semi-finals everyone’s starting from scratch and no-one’s got any points leading into that first semi, so now we’re going to be on our game from ball one.”

En route to the knockouts, Australia, table-topper in Group 1, routed oppositions by margins as big as 97 runs (New Zealand), eight wickets (Bangladesh), 10 wickets (Sri Lanka) and six wickets (South Africa).

In conditions that have aided spinners and rewarded quicks who read them well, Meg Lanning’s side made good on the tournament war cry, “adaptability”, throughout the group stages.

Georgia Wareham, Darcie Brown, Grace Harris stood out with the ball. All-rounders Ashleigh Gardner, Ellyse Perry and Tahlia McGrath left their imprint, too.

Vice-captain Alyssa Healy, who is set to slot back into the XI having sat out their last group game on Saturday with a left quad complaint, has led the charge with the bat.

India, for its part, has personnel who are a force to be reckoned with in their own right, Mooney said.

“They play a lot of spinners. So, I’m sure we’ll see a lot of the batters in the top order facing a significant amount of spin,” Mooney said.

“And we’ve seen with Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana at the top of the order; they go pretty hard, and Richa Ghosh in the middle … We certainly know the style of play they’ve come at us with in the past.

“They know ours pretty well, too, so it won’t be any surprises, I don’t think, come Thursday afternoon.”

A rematch of the 2005 ODI World Cup final, the 2020 T20 World Cup title clash and the 2022 Commonwealth Games final, this fixture marks the first time since the 2017 ODI decider that Australia has taken on India in a major event’s semi-final.

The two sides last met in a five-T20I series played across Navi Mumbai and Mumbai in December. 

Though Australia won the contest 4-1, India’s super-over victory in the second match, before a 47,000-strong crowd, showed they could be world-beaters on their night.

An Indian bowler smiles as her teammate lifts her off the ground in celebration after a T20I wicket.
Renuka Singh (right) has taken seven wickets in four matches to be India’s top wicket-taker at the T20 World Cup.(Getty Images: ICC/Matthew Lewis)

One of the standout performers in that game, swing bowler Renuka Singh, is India’s leading wicket-taker at this tournament.

Mooney, the leading run-scorer on that tour, believes that regardless of the conditions at Newlands, which is likely to be rain-free on Thursday, Australia has every reason to be wary of Singh.

“We played against her back in the series in India in December and she’s a handy bowler for them up front,” Mooney said.

“She’s certainly one we’ll have a look at as a batting unit as to how we can nullify her threat because I think she has been pretty incredible this T20 World Cup.”