Women's T20 International 2013: England Batsmen Key to Victory vs. Australia
England head into the final stages of the multi-format 2013 Women's Ashes Series with a slender 6-4 points advantage in their favour over Australia. With three Twenty20 games to play, however, all could still change with two points available for each victory achieved.
The English ladies moved ahead in the series on Sunday, beating the Southern Stars by five wickets at Hove to secure victory in the third one-day international of what has been a very even contest.
Now, England will know that they must still claim victory in two of the coming Twenty20 games, with a drawn series set to see Australia retain the overall series trophy.
Twenty20 games are always difficult to predict, and given the fierce competition between the two sides this summer, both nations will surely believe they can emerge victorious come August 31.
If England are to succeed, they will be looking to their batsmen to shine. The team's successes throughout the series have been built upon impressive individual batting performances and in the T20 format, that onus will remain.
With three bowlers ranked among the world's top 10, according to the Reliance ODI world rankings, as well as Laura Marsh at No. 11, England have plenty of options with the ball.
The bowlers may not have had the best of summers, finding life particularly hard in the test match played at Wormsley earlier in the month, but have enough pedigree and experience to do their jobs in the T20 encounters.
It will be the batsmen, though, who will win or lose the coming fixtures with their exploits. A quick 20 or 30 runs can be crucial, and England will need some of their high-profile players to stand up and deliver.
Captain and opening batsman Charlotte Edwards has once more had a good summer and will be expected to lead from the front once more, while she could do with former world No. 1-ranked Sarah Taylor building on her return to form at No. 3 in the batting order.
The pair are ranked as the best two batsmen in the world in the 20-over format, according to the Reliance ODI world rankings, and will be expected to help England to big scores in the coming days. When batting well, both score runs at a considerable rate and will help to pile pressure on their opponents.
The experienced Lydia Greenway and Jenny Gunn in the middle order have proven reliable sources of runs in the past and will be looked to for quick runs late in the innings, but could it be Heather Knight who continues her golden summer?
Knight scored a half century in the final ODI on Sunday, but excelled in the test-match format to score 157 and secure a place in the side for the shorter-format games.
Likely to now remain in the side for the coming T20 encounters, Knight will have the chance to build upon her impressive form and show that her skills can translate into quick run-scoring.
It has been England's batting that has earned them a series advantage over the Australians at this stage, and with the finishing line now in sight, it is the batsmen who must perform to carry the hosts over the line.
Australia will not want to concede the Ashes cheaply, and in the likes of 21-year-old Meg Lanning, have talented batsmen ready to seize their moment should England falter.
A big few days await, with the opportunity to win the first of these multi-format series a prize that neither side wishes to forfeit without a fight.
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