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 like to get back to winning ways as back-to-back defeat can cause loss in momentum, especially when they are playing one game after another on the bounce.
The likes of Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj, the young Yastika Bhatia and all-rounder Deepti Sharma were all criticised for not getting a move-on against New Zealand in India’s chase of 261 and despite Harmanpreet Kaur’s 62-ball-71, the team ended up being outplayed by 62 runs.
It is understood that Shafali Verma, despite her ‘blow hot, blow cold’ form, will be back in the playing eleven, and would be expected to lend pace to innings, something which Yastika Bhatia failed to do in the previous game.
The Indian batters played out an inexplicable 162 dot balls, equivalent to 27 overs, in the last game against White Ferns and the match was as good as over when they scored only 50 off the first 20 overs.
Head coach Ramesh Powar was very blunt and critical of the team’s show on the eve of the game against the likes of Stafanie Taylor, Deandra Dottin, and Anisa Mohammed.
“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 their game.
Mithali, playing her last tournament, has been in very poor form and even Mandhana has looked scratchy putting a lot of pressure on the likes of Pooja Vastrakar and Sneh Rana.
No wonder, coach Powar made it clear that he want the seniors to accept more responsibility.
“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,” Powar was very curt.
“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,” one could gauge the irritation in his voice.
One of the poor call by Neetu David-led selection committee has been non-inclusion of opening batter S Meghana, who showed a lot of spark in her comeback ODI series against New Zealand.
She was middling the ball well and unfortunately didn’t make the cut in the World Cup squad, which was picked much earlier.
For West Indies, it has been a good start to the tournament and skipper Taylor would want one more inspirational performance from her band of women, who defended a mediocre total of 225 against defending champions 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 Caribbean’s 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 is capable of putting relentless pressure on opposition batters and it won’t be a cakewalk for India.
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.
West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (capt), Anisa Mohammed (vice-capt), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shemaine Campbelle, Shamilia Connell, Deandra Dottin, Afy Fletcher, Cherry Ann Fraser, Chinelle Henry, Kycia Knight, Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack, Shakera Selman, Rashada Williams.
Match Starts at 6:30 am IST.