Onus on India to perform in Tri-Nation T20 series

India women's T20 skipper Harmanpreet Kaur emphasised the importance of good ground fielding ahead of the Tri-Nation Twenty20 series involving Australia and England.

Indian women's cricket team captain Harmanpreet Kaur remains optimistic about her team's chances in the Twenty20 Tri-Series involving England and Australia.   -  P.K. AJITH KUMAR

Some of the best women cricketers, who have been part of the Twenty20 movement to generate interest in the sport, will be seen in action in the Tri-Nation series at the Brabourne Stadium, Cricket Club of India from Thursday. The inaugural match of the series will see host India take on Australia. 

England has a 71 plus per cent win record from 105 matches, while Australia has a fraction lower than 60 from 101 matches.

Australia, which leads the ICC Rankings and is led by Meg Lanning, seems to be the firm favourite, but the Heather Knight-led England, which won the Ashes-Twenty20 2-1 last November, would also fancy its chances.

India, not in the best form with the bat and ball in recent times, led by Harmanpreet Kaur would have to score a few upset wins to stay right through the tournament. The side has not beaten England in the last eight years and its overall record against the English reads two wins and nine losses. However, the home team has got the better of Australia in three of their last five clashes,though Australia holds a 9-3 win record.

The focus will be around the home team due to the impact it made following the live television coverage of last year’s ICC World Cup, (50 overs) where Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet played some swashbuckling knocks.

After a long break and a successful tour of South Africa that saw Mithali Raj’s team begin its campaign in the ICC Women’s Championship by earning four points from two wins, it was not up to scratch against Australia in the three-match ODI series in Baroda. India lost the first match by eight wickets, the second by 60 runs and the third by 97 runs.

The change in format brings in a level playing field, but the the onus would be upon the likes of Harmanpreet (73 matches, 1305 runs) and Smriti (32 matches, 559 runs) – the big hitters in the front pack – to post or chase challenging totals. On Tuesday, Mithali spoke highly of Mumbai’s 17 year old, Jemima Rodrigues and Pooja Vastarkar.

'Need to up our fielding game,' says Harmanpreet

Harmanpreet admitted her team has to improve. "There are a lot of areas where we need to improve, especially fielding. The girls are looking confident and we will do better. We are in the learning process and preparing for the World Cup. When we played the T20 in South Africa, everybody enjoyed it because we were playing that format after 13 months," she said.

While Australia’s preparation has been perfect, having won two warm up games and three ODIs, England scored overwhelming wins against India `A’ in the two friendlies played at the Brabourne on Monday and Tuesday. The Australian team, not consistent in the Twenty20 format, has been strengthened by the arrival of T20 specialists  Delissa Kimmince and Naomi Stalenberg.

Ruled out of the ODI series against Australia, Jhulan Goswami has recovered from a foot injury and will return to the playing XI, but on the eve of the match, the injured left arm spinner Ekta Bisht (36 matches, 45 wickets at 14.84) , was replaced by Rajeshwari Gayakwad.

The teams:

India: Harmanpreet Kaur (Captain), Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj, Veda Krishnamurthy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Anuja Patil, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia (WK), Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Rumeli Dhar, Mona Meshram.

Australia: Meg Lanning (Captain), Rachael Haynes, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Naomi Stalenberg, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington

England: Heather Knight (Captain), Tammy Beaumont, Kate Cross, Alice Davidson-Richards, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Katie George, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones, Anya Shrubsole, Bryony Smith, Nat Sciver, Fran Wilson, Danni Wyatt

 

In a bid to promote women’s cricket, the BCCI has announced free entry for spectators during the Tri-Nation series at Cricket Club of India’s Brabourne Stadium.

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