After a bitter-sweet Champions Trophy campaign of the Indian men’s cricket team, the Indian eves are all ready and charged-up to make their 11th consecutive World Cup appearance since the inaugural edition in 1973.
Playing in the den of the English Lions, this is their best chance to claim their maiden World Cup title.
The Indian Eves finished at a dismal 7th position after a poor run in the previous World Cup at home in 2013. However, they will be looking to turn things around this time as they are high on confidence after a terrific run of form in ODIs in the last few months.
They had successful campaigns in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifiers and quadrangular series and were once on a run of 16 ODI victories before being beaten by the South Africa women’s team.
Although, they haven’t won the World Cup yet, the women’s team have been one of the most consistent sides in the tournament (if the previous edition isn’t taken into account). Their best finish in the tournament was when they ended up as the runners-up during the 2005 World Cup. Moreover, they had also made it to the semi-finals in consecutive editions in 1997 and 2000 along with finishing third in 2009.
Most importantly, their two ‘Wonder Women’ – skipper Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami – are in good form and that simply means double-trouble for the opposition. The fact that Raj is the second highest run-getter in women’s ODI history and Goswami is the leading wicket-taker till date, is intimidating in itself. The duo deliver more often than not and hence inspire the young guns with their performances.
The Indian squad boasts of a nice blend of youth and experience. The batting and bowling departments will revolve around the likes of the experienced Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, respectively.
The pace bowling department looks a bit weak on resources as India are going into the highly coveted tournament with only three genuine medium-pace bowling options in Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi and Shikha Pandey.
In conditions highly favourable to seam and swing, the decision to field only three genuine pacers may back-fire as injury to any one of them can be a huge setback. However, going by the behaviour of the pitch and conditions during the Champions Trophy, it looks like seam bowling may not play that important a role in the Eve’s World Cup Campaign.
Despite the conditions, spin can still play a huge role owing to the weakness of the other teams against quality spin. Ekta Bisht will be the pivot of the Indian spin department which consists of as many as three quality and wicket-taking spinners.
There is no denying the fact that their main strength is batting and a lot will depend on it. The two explosive openers, Deepti Sharma and Poonam Raut, will have a huge role to play in getting their team off to steady but quick starts.
The duo set a world record in May when they stitched an opening stand of 320 runs in a match against Ireland in the Quadrangular series. The middle order will be the fulcrum of the Indian batting unit as the experience of skipper Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur will matter the most.
In Vedika Krishnamurthy they have another dependable middle order batter if the top order fails to deliver. The batting unit has also been bolstered by the comeback of Smriti Mandhana who missed most of the matches this year owing to an injury sustained during the WBBL.
The fielding unit can make a huge difference for India this time around as most of the players are young athletic fielders. They have to put their best foot forward while fielding to back the bowling attack which is a bit weak. The Indian fielding unit has undergone a huge change during the past one year and hence will look to continue the good work this time as well.
Although, most of the Indian eves lack exposure to playing in high pressure matches, they have enough potential and talent in them to get the better of their opposition. Moreover, they have the experienced Raj, Goswami and Kaur to show them the way and get the best out of them.
India kick start their World Cup campaign on 24 June against the hosts England.
Although, the opponents look like a much stronger side, don’t be surprised if the Indian Eves start their campaign with a victory over them. Irrespective of the results, it’s time to cheer for the Eve’s and bleed blue again!
(This article first appeared on The Quint on June 22, 2017)