Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur and Jhulan Goswami will aim to continue their good form with the bat when India take on Sri Lanka in a group stage match of the Women’s World Cup at the County Ground in Derby, England on Wednesday….writes Sunil Yash Kalra
In 2013, Sri Lanka pulled off a major upset in the history of World Cup Cricket when they ripped through the Indian battling line-up after posting a stiff target of 283 runs at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.
India eventually lost that match by 138 runs, and a few big names never played for India again.
However, it is a different story now for the Indian girls in the 11th edition of the Women’s World Cup.
With three consecutive wins, the Indians have a massive advantage with all round performances over the last one week of the Women’s World Cup.
Batting has been their main strength, with Smriti Mandhana the fourth highest scorer in the tournament with 198 runs in three outings followed by Punam Raut and Mithali Raj at the eighth and ninth spots respectively.
The Indian bowling has been exceptional with Ekta Bisht and 19-year-old Deepti Sharma, at number one and two respectively with six wickets each.
While Ekta castled Pakistan with five wickets with her dipping left-arm spin, Deepti has devastated the opposition with consistent performances in all three matches.
Veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami, who has had a quiet World Cup thus far, is the second on the all-time wicket-taker’s list against Sri Lanka with 20 scalps.
The Indian bowlers are ably supported by the fielders.
Sushma Verma is currently the leading wicket-keeper at the World Cup, dismissing seven batters with four catches and three stumpings. She is ahead of high profile names like Sarah Taylor of England and Australia’ Alyssa Healy (niece of legendary Australian wicket-keeper Ian Healy and wife of Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc).
Winless Sri Lanka have been struggling at the World Cup so far, though their margins of defeats have consistently reduced.
In the first encounter against New Zealand they lost by nine wickets. They went down to the Aussies by eight wickets and finally to host England by seven wickets.
Barring Chamari Atapattu, their batters have failed to impress, and bowlers lack bite in the Sri Lankan attack.
With a mammoth innings of 178 in 143 deliveries against the formidable Aussies, Atapattu launched powerplay innings throughout with 22 boundaries and six massive sixes, keeping the wagon wheel evenly spread.
Her strength lies in free flowing strokeplay and finding gaps on both the sides of the wicket.
Atapattu scored her first century in 2011, followed by two in 2014 against Ireland and South Africa, respectively, before setting up her recent record of second highest individual score in the history of World Cup.
Currently, she is also the second most run getter at the World Cup.
Her weakness is left-arm spin of which Ekta Bisht is an able exponent and Bijapur girl Rajeshwari Gaekwad is another good option for India.
It needs to be seen if India coach Tushar Arothe goes in for a rotation policy with the inclusion of Veda Krishnamurthy, Nauzat Parveen and Gaekwad or sticks to the winning combination.
India are currently placed at the top of the pool with three wins and six points followed by Australia, who are also on six points but are marginally behind on net run rate.
India’s campaign henceforth will get tougher as they will face defending champions Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.