WT20 : Women India V England World T20 Preview

England Women expects aggression from Mithali Raj’s side as the race for semifinal spots heats up

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The journey upward from Dharamsala to McLeodganj isn’t for the faint of heart or stomach, with a steep incline, narrow roads, hairpin bends and the pleasant nip in the air that grows icier as you ascend further. In some ways, it’s a microcosm of the ICC Women World Twenty20 2016 itself where the challenges intensify with each game.

As India Women and England Women get ready to face off in a Group B tie on Tuesday (March 22) at the HPCA stadium, the importance of a win here isn’t lost on anyone.

Both teams have pocketed a win against Bangladesh Women, while India has played one more game than England, a nail-biting encounter in Delhi on Saturday, which Pakistan won by two runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method. With West Indies Women sitting pretty at the top of the group with two wins in two matches, another loss for India could see the side make an early exit.

But rather than fret about what could go wrong, India needs to approach the game with a positive mindset. For one thing, the threat of rain, which has cast a shadow on many of the men’s matches played in Dharamsala, is pretty much non-existent on Tuesday.

There is an air of confidence within the side as well. The batters impressed in the first outing where India posted 163 for 5 against Bangladesh, its highest ever score in a Twenty20 International. In the second, it was stifled by Pakistan, but the bowlers made an excellent comeback, reducing Pakistan to 77 for 6 before the heavens opened up.

Mithali Raj, the India captain, explained that though there were a few missteps against Pakistan, there was no reason yet to press the panic button.

“We lost early wickets with not too many runs on the board and we were too cautious in the beginning,” she said. “We recovered very well later on and posted a total we could have defended had we got a better start from our bowlers in the first six overs. We definitely don’t want to change too many things because it was just one bad day; it doesn’t mean we change the whole set-up of the team.”

Charlotte Edwards, the England captain, for her part, was cognisant of the fact that nothing less than the best would do against the home team.

“India will be hurting after a defeat against Pakistan,” pointed out Edwards. “We’re going to have to be ready for that. I’m sure they’re going to come out a bit more aggressive than they were in the last game. We’re not going to take them lightly at all.”

It will be interesting to see how England responds to India’s aggression. The side’s lack of sixes in the 2014 edition of the tournament, where it finished runner-up to Australia, was glaring and Edwards acknowledged that it was something it was addressing. It wasn’t too evident in its opening game though, where Tammy Beaumont hit the solitary six of the innings, and England will be aware that while it might have been able to get away with that against Bangladesh, that won’t always be the case.

England has been magnanimous in its praise of Dharamsala and the cooler temperatures are similar to what the players encounter back home. A tourist hotspot though it might be, it will be up to India to ensure England’s stay isn’t too comfy.

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

England Women: Charlotte Edwards (capt), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Georgia Elwiss, Natasha Farrant, Lydia Greenway, Rebecca Grundy, Jenny Gunn, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones, Heather Knight, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor (wk), Danielle Wyatt.