Women’s World T20: India seeks another win in clash against New Zealand

India beat both host Australia and Bangladesh in its previous two matches and is perched at the top of Group A standings with four points from two matches.

A win against New Zealand on Thursday will take the Harmanpreet Kaur-led Indian side on the threshold of a knock-out stage spot.   -  Twitter (@T20WorldCup)

On a high after two easy victories on the trot, including one against defending champion Australia, the Indian women’s cricket will aim to inch closer to a semifinal berth when it takes on New Zealand in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Melbourne on Thursday.

India has hardly broken a sweat in its 17-run and 18-run wins over host Australia and Bangladesh in its previous two matches, and it is perched at the top of the Group A standings with four points from two matches.

A win against New Zealand on Thursday will take the Harmanpreet Kaur-led side on the threshold of a knock-out stage spot, which will have the top two teams from Group A and B. In the two matches so far, the Indian team has been impressive both in batting and bowling.

The 16-year-old sensation Shafali Verma has been the standout batter with a whirlwind 17-ball 39 against Bangladesh, following her 29 against Australia. One-down Jemimah Rodrigues has also been among the runs with 26 and 34 so far. Only captain Harmanpreet, among the top-order batters, has not scored big and she is due one such knock.

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India is also likely to be bolstered by the return of star opener Smriti Mandhana who missed the match against Bangladesh due to fever. The middle-order has also done its bit with Deepti Sharma playing a major role against Australia with an unbeaten 49 while Veda Krishnamurthy hit a match-defining 11-ball 20 not out against Bangladesh.

The bowling department has been led admirably by seasoned leg-spinner Poonam Yadav, who has seven wickets from two outings, with pacer Shikha Pandey ably supporting her with five scalps so far. New Zealand, though, has a better head-to-head record against India in recent years, having won the last three matches between the two sides.

Exactly a year back, it had beaten the Indian team 3-0 in a three-match T20I series at home. India will, however, remember its massive 34-run win against New Zealand in the 2018 edition of the T20 World Cup in West Indies. Harmanpreet had struck a memorable 103 to lead her side to victory back then.

New Zealand has some top-class players in its ranks in the form of captain and all-rounder Sophie Devine and batswoman Suzie Bates, while pacer Lea Tahuhu and leg-spinner Amelia Kerr will lead the bowling department. It will go into this match on a high after an easy seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka on Saturday. Devine had led her side from the front with an unbeaten 75 off 55 balls at the top of the order in that win.

The Teams (From):

India: Harmanpreet Kaur (capt), Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Shafali Verma, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Harleen Deol, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Richa Ghosh, Veda Krishnamurthy, Shikha Pandey, Arundhati Reddy, Pooja Vastrakar.

New Zealand: Sophie Devine (capt), Rosemary Mair, Amelia Kerr, Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Jess Kerr, Katey Martin (wk), Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest, Lea Tahuhu.

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