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Indian Women Eye Fresh Start Against Formidable New Zealand

Sarah Waris |Cricketnext |January 23, 2019, 9:03 AM IST
Indian Women Eye Fresh Start Against Formidable New Zealand

As the Indian Women’s Cricket Team get ready to face New Zealand in their first international fixture after the public spat that overshadowed the side’s fine semi-final run at the World T20 last November, a stern test awaits the senior pros in particular.

The short yet crucial tour to New Zealand, comprising three ODIs and as many T20Is, isn’t just an opportunity to rise from their fifth place in the ICC Women’s ODI Championship but will also allow the stars that had been caught in the eye of the storm, the chance to redeem themselves.

With several young players in the mix, the onus will be on the likes of Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur to ensure a calm team environment where personal tussles are left behind.

Skipper Mithali Raj, in the saddle as captain for the ODI leg, did say all the right things in her pre-match media interaction. However, it is the process newly-appointed coach WV Raman follows to break the ice that will be instrumental in the team’s journey ahead. He will not only have to tread carefully, as to not be seen to favour either Mitali or Harmanpreet.

With the former captaining the ODI team and the Punjab player in charge of the T20 unit, Raman’s challenge will lie in his ability to adapt and walk the tightrope between the two ideologies of his leaders, especially in case of dissonance. In recent times, the Indian coach has been a revolving door with the likes of Ramesh Powar, Tushar Arothe and Purnima Rau exiting, so Raman’s task is cut out.

If the performances in the WT20 are an indicator, the Indian team’s strong-suit is undoubtedly the spin department. The fact that the squad played all their league games in Guyana, where the tracks kept low and slow aided them further, and with Powar keen to field a four-spinner attack, the ploy to bamboozle their rivals with a surfeit of spin worked wonders.

However, with spinners accounting for only 81 ODI wickets in New Zealand in the last three years (from January 23, 2016) at an average of 35.69, the tactic to go in with as many slow bowlers could possibly see a change. With smaller grounds and flatter tracks, New Zealand has become a happy hunting ground for batsmen in recent times.

Poonam Yadav - Chamari Atapattu

However, the skill-set of leg-spinner Poonam Yadav, the leader of India’s spin bowling department along with the likes of Deepti Sharma and Ekta Bisht will mean India will continue to rely heavily on spin. The 27-year-old Yadav has fared well in relatively seam-friendly tracks of England and South Africa in 50-over matches, averaging 26 in the United Kingdom and an impressive 14.18 in South Africa.

What the bowling attack will benefit from immensely is the return of Jhulan Goswami, who has retired from T20s but remains very much an integral part of the ODI set-up. The arrival of Goswami will see the team equipped with a star who has been performing her role to perfection in 17 years at the top, and the way she manages and guides upcoming quicks like Mansi Joshi will be eagerly watched.

The biggest challenge however will be the batting line-up. Except for Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet and barring a few cameos from Taniya Bhatia in Sri Lanka, the Indian team lacks the aggressive pinch-hitter who can take the game to and away from the opponents. In the last three years, batsmen from all countries in the top-seven have scored at a strike-rate of 80.89 in New Zealand, with the top-seven from the victorious team striking at 90.51.

Thus, to be successful an aggressive strike-rate is the need of the hour and with India’s top-order finding it difficult to break the shackles on occasions, the pressure could be massive on the two Women’s Big Bash league stars.

(Image: ICC) (Image: ICC)

The Kiwi side had looking unconvincing and dazed in their WT20 clash against India, but on their home patch, the Indians can’t write them off. The White Ferns have won 36 of their 58 ODIs since 2014 (win percentage of 62%) and have managed to cross the line 20 times at home in 27 games (74% wins).

Suzie Bates’ power in the recent WBBL coupled with Amy Sattherthwaite and Sophie Devine’s aggressive approach makes the unit one to fear, while Lea Tahuhu and Leigh Kasperek are proven match-winners who will be eager to cash in on the existing cracks in the opponent camp.

India squad: Mithali Raj (capt), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-capt), Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Punam Raut, Deepti Sharma, D Hemalatha, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Mona Meshram, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Shikha Pandey

New Zealand Squad: Amy Satterthwaite (c), Suzie Bates, Bernadine Bezuidenhout (wk), Sophie Devine, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

5 4 0 1 9 +1.59
5 4 1 0 8 +1.86
5 4 1 0 8 +0.81
4 3 0 1 7 +1.02
5 2 2 1 5 -0.27
5 1 2 2 4 -1.77
5 1 3 1 3 +0.27
6 1 4 1 3 -0.19
5 1 3 1 3 -1.93
5 0 5 0 0 -2.08

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5720 124
2 India 5990 122
3 New Zealand 4121 114
4 South Africa 4647 111
5 Australia 4805 109
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more