|Date: 23 February Venue: Newlands, Cape Town Time: 13:00 GMT|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary and in-play video clips on the BBC Sport website and app.|
A juggernaut, Galacticos, an “unstoppable train” – cricket is running out of superlatives to describe the impact of Australia’s women.
But perhaps words are not needed, as their dominance is evident in the sheer amount of trophies they have won.
Meg Lanning’s side have won five of the last six T20 World Cups, won the Commonwealth Games at the first time of asking and also hold the 50-over world title.
Unsurprisingly, they have now reached another semi-final of the Women’s T20 World Cup, taking on India at Newlands in Cape Town on Thursday.
“They are a fantastic side and they know how to win,” said former England spinner Alex Hartley on BBC Test Match Special.
“If they ever get in to tough positions, they know exactly what to do to get out of them. They are a very well-drilled unit.”
Australia are arguably one of the world’s most successful sporting teams and in 2022, they were only beaten once across all formats.
In a year where they thrashed England in the Ashes and the World Cup final, they suffered a super-over defeat by India.
Since reaching the 50-over World Cup final in 2017, where they lost to England, India have steadily improved and have arguably eclipsed England as the team most likely to spoil Australia’s party.
“We can beat Australia, it’s not that we can’t beat them, because we did it in the last series in India and we did it before as well,” said wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh. “We know they are a strong team but we know we can beat them.”
It says a lot about Australia’s dominance that a single win against them in a year makes India likely contenders, but they have also come close on numerous occasions.
India beat Australia in the opening game of the T20 World Cup in 2020 before losing to them in the final, and came close to winning the Commonwealth Games where there was only a nine-run margin between the teams.
“We are improving our mindset, because the game is anyone’s,” said Ghosh. “The one who is mentally strong in the game will win.”
If Harmanpreet Kaur’s young side can learn to edge the crunch moments in tight games, they could be a significant threat to Australia’s dominance.
“India can certainly beat them,” said England all-rounder Georgia Elwiss on BBC Test Match Special.
“They have done so well against Australia in recent times. They had moments where they really had Australia in trouble in the Commonwealth Games final but they just weren’t able to get a strong enough grip of the game.
“They will know they are not far away, it is just the key moments they need to win and they can definitely get over the line.”
India have a young side, boosted by 19-year-olds Shafali Verma and Ghosh, while 22-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues and 26-year-old Smriti Mandhana hold the batting line-up together.
They also boast one of the tournament’s in-form bowlers in Renuka Singh Thakur, whose in-swing tore through England’s top order with a stunning 5-15, and also had Australia in tatters with 4-18 during the Commonwealth Games.
But Australia’s golden generation has world-class stars from 1-11 – amplified by destructive all-rounder Tahlia McGrath batting at number seven in their opening game against New Zealand.
“They are an unstoppable train,” said BBC Test Match Special commentator Henry Moeran.
“They are so dominant in so many areas. It’s a relentless stream of some of the best players in the world.”
Their magnificence is down to the investment in the professional domestic set-up they implemented years before England and the success of the Women’s Big Bash League, their T20 franchise competition.
“What’s impressive is the way they take the drama away from games, they always just look in complete control,” added Hartley.
“They are calm, they have the freedom of being able to go out and express themselves knowing they have a batter coming in next who is equally as good and if not better. It is scary how good they are.”
The conditions at the grounds so far may be something India could benefit from, with slow pitches and spinners dominating – but make no mistake, Australia will be more than prepared.
“They’re an incredible side. They’ve got some match-winners and world-class players and it’s going to be a cracking game, and we can’t wait,” said Australia captain Meg Lanning.
“They’ve shown that they’re not relying on one or two players, they’ve got some great depth as well. So, for us as a team, we’ve had to prepare for all their players.
“We know they’re strong, and that sort of just makes the challenge even greater and something we look forward to.”
Neither team has quite been at their best yet, with India squandering a promising position against England, and while Australia are unbeaten, their top order has been inconsistent and their chases of low totals have not been in their usual free-flowing style.
But if both can find their form at the right time, this semi-final could prove to be one for the ages.