Mount Maunganui: Their confidence high after an impressive win over the West Indies, India would look for much-needed consistency with the bat against a struggling England in their fourth league stage match of the ICC Women’s World Cup here on Wednesday.
Currently placed third after a morale-boosting 155-run against the West Indies, India would like to keep the winning momentum going and maintain its stay in the top four especially when they take on table toppers Australia after England.
After an inexplicably slow performance against New Zealand when the Indian batters played out 162 dot balls, Smriti Mandhana (123 off 119) and Harmanpreet Kaur (109 off 107) produce a splendid batting display, slamming twin centuries against the West Indies to power India to their highest total (317/8) in the history of the showpiece event.
“I think for us, it is very important the way we performed in the last game; we just need to continue that, rather than thinking about what are your negatives and what are your positive points,” vice-captain Kaur told reporters on the eve of the game.
Both openers — Mandhana and Yastika Bhatia — showed intent from the very beginning, something coach Romesh Powar had stressed upon ahead of the match.
Mandhana played a fluent 123 run-knock while Kaur also continued her fine run, bringing up her fourth ton and the first since hitting the famous 171 not out against Australia in the 2017 World Cup.
The duo will be eager to continue in the same vein with the race for semifinal berths heating up.
However, all-rounder Deepti Sharma, who has been elevated to the top, has to do more with the bat as does skipper Mithali Raj, who has also been off the boil recently.
Young Richa Ghosh, who has been brilliant behind the wickets, has so far crumbled under the pressure with the bat. The 18-year-old is yet to replicate her sensational form against New Zealand last month.
India also have quality all-rounders with Sneh Rana and Puja Vastrakar already displaying their ability to convert a poor show into brilliant final outcome.
The bowling unit, that seemed a cause of concern heading into the World Cup, has so far delivered for the team.
While pacers Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar and Jhulan Goswami are doing a decent job, the bulk of the wickets have been shared between the spinners — Rajeshwari Gayakwad (7), who is third on the list of leading wicket takers in the tournament, and Sneh Rana (5 wickets).
Gayakward (3.36) and Rana (3.44) also have the third and fourth best economy rates in the tournament respectively.
On the other hand, England’s title defence has been off to a disastrous start. Heather Knight and Co. have lost all three of their matches to slip down to the seventh spot on the points table.
Their inability to close matches in the dying minutes has cost the defending champions dearly.
A loss against India on Wednesday mean the possibility of making the top four would be completely out of their hands, a prospect England would definitely want to avoid.
The defending champions have been sloppy on the field as fielding errors have crept into their performances with several dropped chances and missed stumpings.
Opener Tammy Beaumont continues to remain their star performer with the bat while spinner Sophie Ecclestone and all-rounder Nat Scriver are the team’s leading wicket takers with four scalps each.
India: Mithali Raj (c), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Harmanpreet Kaur, Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Rich Ghosh (wk), Taniya Bhatia (wk), Sneh Rana, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Jhulan Goswami, Renuka Singh.
England: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Freya Davies, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Amy Jones, Emma Lamb, Nat Sciver), Anya Shrubsole, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Danni Wyatt.