Women’s World Cup: England challenge ahead for buoyant India

After an impressive win against West Indies, India will aim to continue to excel with the bat when it takes on England on Wednesday.

Smriti Mandhana (right) and Harmanpreet Kaur during their partnership of 184 runs against West Indies on Saturday. Both scored centuries, Harmanpreet scoring her first since the semifinals of the 2017 Women’s World Cup.   -  AFP

After an impressive win over West Indies, India will aim to continue to excel with the bat in the next assignment - a group-stage contest against England on Wednesday in the ICC Women’s World Cup.

Placed third after the win on Saturday, India will hope to sustain its position in the top half of the points table as it progresses in the tournament.

After a sluggish performance with the bat against New Zealand - Indian batters ate up 162 dot balls - the Indian top order showed its prowess against West Indies, Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur scoring attacking centuries even as their team registered its highest-ever 50-over total in the Women’s World Cup. Harmanpreet, the vice-captain, said her team aims to continue to build on the positives gained from this performance.

“I think for us, it is very important the way we performed in the last game; we just need to continue that, rather than thinking about what are your negatives and what are your positive points,” Harmanpreet told reporters on the eve of the game against England.

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All-rounder Deepti Sharma, who has been elevated to the top of the order, will aim to contribute with the bat this time as will captain Mithali Raj. Richa Ghosh, who has been brilliant behind the wickets, hasn’t shone with the bat, and is yet to replicate her sensational form against New Zealand last month. India also has quality all-rounders, with Sneh Rana and Puja Vastrakar already displaying their ability to convert a poor show into a brilliant final outcome.

The bowling unit has so far delivered for the team. While fast bowlers Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar and Jhulan Goswami are performing well, the bulk of the wickets have been shared between the spinners - Rajeshwari Gayakwad (seven wickets) and Sneh Rana (five wickets). Gayakward (3.36) and Rana (3.44) also have the third and fourth best economy rates, respectively, in the tournament.

Three losses in a row

England, the defending champion, hasn’t been off to a good start. Heather Knight & Co. have lost all three of their matches to slip down to the seventh spot in the points table. Their inability to close matches in the dying minutes has proved costly.

If they lose on Wednesday, the possibility of making it to the top four will diminish, and they will have to depend on other results.

England has been sloppy in the field - there have been several dropped chances and missed stumpings. Opener Tammy Beaumont continues to remain the star performer with the bat while spinner Sophie Ecclestone and all-rounder Nat Sciver are the team’s leading wicket takers with four scalps each.

Squads
  • India: Mithali Raj (c), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Harmanpreet Kaur, Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Rich Ghosh (wk), Taniya Bhatia (wk), Sneh Rana, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Jhulan Goswami, Renuka Singh.
  • England: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Freya Davies, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Amy Jones, Emma Lamb, Nat Sciver), Anya Shrubsole, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Danni Wyatt.
  • Match begins at 6.30am IST; will be telecast live on the Star Sports network and Disney+Hotstar.

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