India's under-performing top-order will be keen to display way more intent to bring the team's campaign back on track when it squares off against a dangerous West Indies in the third league game of the ICC Women's World Cup here on Saturday.
Currently placed fifth after a demoralising 62-run loss to New Zealand, India would be keen to get back to winning ways, especially when playing back-to-back matches.
The likes of Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj, the young Yastika Bhatia and all-rounder Deepti Sharma were criticised for their poor show against New Zealand in India's chase of 261 and despite Harmanpreet Kaur's 62-ball-71, the side lost by 62 runs.
Shafali Verma, despite her inconsistent form, is likely to return to the playing eleven, and would be expected to lend pace to innings, something which Yastika could not do in the previous game.
The Indian batters played out an inexplicable 162 dot balls, equivalent to 27 overs, in the last game against the White Ferns and scored only 50 runs in the first 20 overs.
Head coach Ramesh Powar was very blunt and critical of the team's show on the eve of the game. "I think it was one of those days where things didn't go our way and honestly I was also surprised with the way we batted for 20 overs. (But) if you look back (at the) last six games, which we have played against New Zealand, we were executing our plans well," Powar told reporters ahead of the game.
Mithali, playing her last tournament, has been in poor form and even Mandhana has looked scratchy, putting a lot of pressure on the likes of Pooja Vastrakar and Sneh Rana.
Powar, wanting the seniors to accept more responsibility, said, "I think it is the pressure, I think of the World Cup but I don't want to give any excuses. This is the right time to put your hand up and put up the performances, because we have been training for last six months."
"We have been to England, Australia, we have been to New Zealand early, so we have got every practice opportunity which was needed, so it is time as a group to stand up and deliver," he said, talking about Thursday's defeat.
One of the poor calls by the Neetu David-led selection committee has been the non-inclusion of opening batter S Meghana, who showed a lot of spark in her comeback ODI series against New Zealand.
For West Indies, it has been a good start to the tournament and skipper Stafanie Taylor would want one more inspirational performance from her band of women, who defended a mediocre total of 225 against defending champion England in the last game.
Taylor's biggest advantage is her multiple bowling options and she was able to use as many as eight bowlers in the last game against England.
While Dottin's airborne catch to dismiss Lauren Winfield-Hill was the highlight of the Windies' show against England, what would make Indians wary is the fact that the Caribbeans have successfully defended twice in two games against the White Ferns and England.
The bowling attack, comprising Shamilia Connell, Shakera Selman, Chinelle Henry and Anisa Mohammed, is capable of putting relentless pressure on opposition batters and it won't be a cakewalk for India.
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