Indian women take on Bangladesh in opener

Ever since India beat Australia away to record a historic series win and then trampled Sri Lanka at home, Indian women’s cricket team have been considered a title contender.

India captain Mithali Raj at a practice session ahead of the Women's World T20 match at Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru on Monday.   -  PTI

The prospect of winning a World Cup is enticing for all. In women’s T20 history though, this has been limited to the likes of Australia and England who have combined to win all four editions held so far.

But 2016 looks different; at least ever since India beat Australia away to record a historic series win. Then when the side trampled Sri Lanka at home, the tag of a contender did seem to stick well. On Tuesday, when it takes on Bangladesh in the ICC Women’s World T20 opener at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, the quest to prove that this isn’t a false dawn will begin in earnest.

“Our preparation has been very good,” said skipper Mithali Raj on the eve of the match. “A couple of series [wins] before the World Cup is a good platform. The team looks well-rounded and compact.”

India last encountered Bangladesh in the previous edition in 2014. In fact it hasn’t played any of its other Group ‘B’ opponents – West Indies, England, and Pakistan – since then. “Ideally I would have preferred Australia or New Zealand in one of the practice games,” said Mithali. “Maybe our batting hasn’t been really tested so far in this format. But the girls seem to be confident. From the Australia series, whether it has been the one-day or T20, in every match we have had a new match-winner. That goes to show that every girl is stepping up.”

Bangladesh however can boast of nothing similar. It last played an international series back in November 2015 and its lead-up, apart from the warm-up games here, has featured only matches against boys’ sides.

“If we had got practice matches against a strong team like India, it would have been good,” said its captain Jahanara Alam. “Only practice preparation is not good enough but there was no other way for us. We are not thinking about the negatives. We believe that nothing is impossible. They are definitely strong but we will play good cricket tomorrow.”

The teams (from):

India: Mithali Raj (capt), Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Thirush Kamini, Veda Krishnamurthy, Niranjana Nagarajan, Anuja Patil, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma, Ekta Bisht, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, V.R. Vanitha.

Bangladesh: Jahanara Alam (capt), Salma Khatun, Nigar Sultana, Panna Ghosh, Rumana Ahmed, Lata Mondol, Ritu Moni, Ayasha Rahman, Fahima Khatun, Sharmin Akhter, Fargana Hoque, Khadiza tul Kubra, Nahida Akter, Shaila Sharmin, Sanjida Islam.

(Match starts at 3.30 p.m).