Mithali Raj’s side will be a confident outfit against the reigning World Cup champions, bolstered by their recent 2-1 series victory against New Zealand in the latter's backyard.
With just the three games in the series, all of them to be played at the Wankhede Stadium, India will be eyeing to make an upward move in the ICC Championship standings, in which they are currently fourth.
Barring recent success, India will also gain assurance from their performance against England during the 2018 series. The home side won last year’s three-match series 2-1 in Nagpur, thanks to an in-form Smriti Mandhana.
The hosts will be hoping that the story doesn’t differ from last year’s script. The No. 1 ranked batter amassed 196 runs, including a hundred and a 90, against New Zealand, and will be tasked with bagging the bulk of the runs in the top order, alongside youngster Jemimah Rodrigues.
The 18-year-old scored two half-centuries apart from two solid starts in the six games in New Zealand, and will be eyeing big scores, especially playing in her home city.
Skipper Mithali Raj will have to front extra responsibility, with the absence of Harmanpreet Kaur in an already fragile middle-order. India’s T20I captain was ruled out of the entire series with an ankle injury, and has been replaced by Harleen Deol.
India’s strike bowlers will be their spin trio of Deepti Sharma, Ekta Bisth and Poonav Yadav. With Wankhede traditionally being a batter-friendly wicket, the slow bowlers will have a stiff task of keeping the runs down. Veteran Jhulan Goswami will lead the pace attack with either Shikha Pandey or Mansi Joshi.
Heather Knight and her side, who are currently placed seventh in the Championship rankings, know that they have their task cut out for this series.
"No England women's team has won a bilateral ODI series out here - so that's what we're working towards," the captain said after their victory in the warm-up game against Board President’s XI.
Knight, an 86-ODI veteran, displayed some form in the practice game on Monday, with her half-century leading the visitors to a narrow two-wicket win. The England captain is backed by the presence of Dani Wyatt, Tammy Beaumont and Amy Jones in the batting order. England also have Sarah Taylor, who has battled anxiety issues to be available for this series.
With in-form all-rounders like Sophie Ecceclestone, experienced pacers Anya Shrubsole, who finished with a four-wicket haul in the warm-up fixture, and Katherine Brunt, with the option of Nat Sciver’s medium seam-ups, the visitors have enough fire-power in the bowling department to trouble India’s top-heavy batting order.
India: Mithali Raj (c), Jhulan Goswami, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia (wicket-keeper), R Kalpana (wk), Mona Meshram, Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Shikha Pandey, Mansi Joshi, Punam Raut, Harleen Deol.
England: Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Alex Hartley, Amy Jones, Heather Knight (c), Laura Marsh, Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor (wk), Lauren Winfield and Danni Wyatt.
anya shrubsoleEngland Women in India 2019Heather KnightIndia WOmen vs England Women 2019Jemimah Rodriguesjhulan goswamiLaura Marshmithali rajNat SciverSarah Taylorsmriti mandhana
First Published: February 21, 2019, 3:33 PM IST