Asia Cup: Indian women start favourites

Six-time champion India will kick off its campaign in the seventh women’s Asia Cup against Malaysia at the Kinrara Academy Oval here on Sunday.

The Asia Cup will be played in the T20 format with six teams competing over eight days for the title. Besides India and host Malaysia, the other teams are Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand.   -  BCCI Women/Twitter

Six-time champion and pre-tournament favourite India will kick off its campaign in the seventh women’s Asia Cup against a relatively weaker Malaysian side at the Kinrara Academy Oval here on Sunday.

Organised by the Asian Cricket Council, this will be the third successive edition that will be played in the T20 format with six teams competing over eight days for the title. Besides India and host Malaysia, the other teams are Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand.

The winner will get the perfect leg-up in form and confidence for the women’s World T20 in the Caribbean in November.

After facing the host on Sunday, India will be up against Thailand on Monday before facing Bangladesh on Wednesday. The Harmanpreet Kaur-led side will then take on Sri Lanka on Thursday before playing its final league game against archrivals Pakistan on Friday.

Going into the opener, an experienced Indian side, comprising the likes of seasoned campaigners in Harmanpreet, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami are likely to pull off a comfortable win.

India will bank on a strong start from its top order, comprising vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, Mithali, Harmanpreet and teenaged Jemimah Rodrigues.

The middle order will mainly depend on Veda Krishnamurthy, who has been inconsistent in the recent past and young stumper Taniya Bhatia.

Veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami will lead the bowling department alongside Shikha Pandey even as the plethora of left-arm spinners, including Ekta Bisht — the leading wicket-taker at the 2016 edition will hope to return a handful in the middle overs.

On the other hand, the Malaysian side will look up to its 25-year-old skipper Winifred Anne Duraisingam to lead the fight against the fancied opposition.