Women's World Cup 2022: Five Indians to watch out for

Ahead of India's big opening fixture against Pakistan in the 2022 Women's ODI World Cup, here are five Indians who will be key to the side's fortunes.

India begins its 2022 Women's World Cup campaign on March 6 when it takes on Pakistan.   -  Getty Images

India begins its 2022 Women's World Cup campaign on March 6 when it takes on Pakistan. Ahead of the big opening fixture, here are five Indians who will be key to India's prospects in the tournament:

1. Harmanpreet Kaur: The Indian vice-captain has enjoyed a perfectly timed return to form in the run-up to the marquee event. After a prolonged slump in form after her historic 171 not out in the 2017 edition of the tournament, she has managed to get some runs under her belt with a half-century in the fifth ODI against New Zealand and a hundred in the warm-up fixture against South Africa. Harman is one of India's best fielders and allows India a nifty off-break option that's found reasonable success especially in the middle overs.

2. Smriti Mandhana: The Indian opener seems to be in the form of her life and was unfortunate to miss out on four of the five ODIs India played against New Zealand as preparation for the World Cup. Her 71 in the fifth ODI helped India secure a win and is something she will hope to replicate and build on through the tournament.

Mandhana has 2436 runs from 63 ODIs and an average of 42 which bodes well for the side heading into the World Cup. Shafali Verma being out of form only makes her role that much more important - to give India an ideal start to build its innings. It is no secret that she enjoys a chase and her experience and composure will be crucial when India is set a target in any of its games.

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3. Yastika Bhatia: Her all-important century stand with Shafali Verma in the third ODI against Australia in 2021 broke the Aussies' record unbeaten streak in the format. After being dropped for the England tour, she made the most of the situation by top scoring for India A in the 2021-22 Senior Women's One-Day Challenger Trophy. That propped her up for contention for the Australia, New Zealand tours and eventually the World Cup squad.

She comes into the game against Pakistan after scores of 58(78) against South Africa and 42 (53) against West Indies. She managed decent starts in two of the four games she featured in as part of the tour of NZ as well. Bhatia will hope to capitalise on those performances.

4. Deepti Sharma: Sharma's consistency as an all-rounder solves many problems for this Indian unit. She has been among the wickets consistently since last year. Sharma had a great run in The Hundred with 10 wickets in the tournament. In ODIs, she has 15 wickets to her name in the run-up to the World Cup and over 300 runs too. Her 12-wicket haul from the New Zealand series is a positive for an under-performing bowling unit. The Indian camp has started fashioning her into a relatively steady number 3. Her unbeaten 69 and 51-run knocks against New Zealand and the Windies have only emphasised that she is more than up for the task.

5. Rajeshwari Gayakwad: One of the more stable presences in the team, Gayakwad is one of India's most vital spin options alongside the likes of Poonam Yadav. The off-spinner took seven wickets in the recently concluded ODI series against New Zealand but what will give her a lot of confidence are the figures of 4/46 and 2/39 in the two warm-up fixtures India played against South Africa and West Indies.

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