Women’s Asia Cup 2018: India faces Pakistan with eyes on final

With six points apiece, India and Pakistan occupy the top two spots in the table, with a superior net run rate separating the Harmanpreet Kaur-led side from the Pakistanis.

Aiming its seventh straight title, India will hope it can continue its all-round form and beat Pakistan before reaching the finals. (File Photo)   -  AP

Comfortably placed atop the points table, arch-rivals India and Pakistan will lock horns in a virtual semi-final clash of the women’s Asia Cup at the Kinrara Academy Oval, here, on Saturday.

With six points apiece, India and Pakistan occupy the top two spots in the table, with a superior net run rate separating the Harmanpreet Kaur-led side from the Pakistanis.

Aiming its seventh straight title, India will hope it can continue its all-round form and beat Pakistan before reaching the finals. The big win over Sri Lanka on Thursday will boost the confidence of Harmanpreet’s side, especially after the shocking defeat to Bangladesh.

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Pakistan, on the other end, will hope to pick up a win over the tournament favourites, even as it tries to overcome the humiliation at the hands of the Bangladeshi women. Going into Saturday’s clash, it will be yet again a test between the Indian batswomen and the Pakistani bowlers.

Besides skipper Harmanpreet, India’s batting will revolve mainly around the likes of vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj, Jemimah Rodrigues, Veda Krishnamurthy and Pooja Vastrakar.

The bowling department will be spearheaded by veteran Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey, even as the spin trio of Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Poonam Yadav are expected to contribute in the middle overs.

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Meanwhile, Pakistan will expect skipper and star all-rounder Bismah Maroof to deliver the goods, along with the likes of Sana Mir, Nida Dar, Muneeba Ali and Nahida Khan.

Overall, the clash is expected to go down to the wire as the winner directly reaches Sunday’s final, while the loser will have to wait for the outcome of the other match between third-placed Bangladesh (six points) and host Malaysia, to know their fate.

Squads:

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

Pakistan Women: Bismah Maroof (Captain), Muneeba Ali, Nahida Khan, Javeria Rauf, Nain Abidi, Javeria Khan, Sidra Nawaz, Nida Dar, Kainat Imtiaz, Sana Mir, Nashra Sandhu, Anam Amin, Natalia Pervaiz, Diana Baig.