Perform or perish time for India
THE KNOCK OF HER LIFE: Harmanpreet Kaur hit a brilliant century at almost a run-a-ball to raise the quality of India's match against England to dizzy heights. Photo: Vivek Bendre. | The Hindu
Mithali Raj led Indian team would have to pull up their socks before locking horns with Sri Lanka in a must-win game for both the teams in ICC Women’s World Cup at the Brabourne Stadium on Tuesday. Photo: Vivek Bendre | The Hindu

It may be physically and mentally a touch too exacting, but the four teams featuring in Group A of the ICC Women’s World Cup have risen to the challenge to play three league matches each in less than a week’s time.

The good aspect though is that England, the West Indies and Sri Lanka have not had to do tedious trips from one city to another; it’s been just a matter of enduring a chaotic 20 km road journey within the city when they have to travel to a suburban venue.

Being the home team, the Indian team will play all its league matches at the Brabourne stadium which means a short bus ride of about a kilometre from the team hotel at the Gateway of India through to the Marine Drive before reaching the Cricket Club of India.

Engaging contests

The four league matches played at the two venues so far — the Brabourne and Middle Income Group (MIG) Ground, Bandra — has showcased the advances made by women’s cricket.

The quality and variety showed in the batting, bowling and fielding departments have contributed to engaging contests. The players have displayed their individual brilliance in the quest of advancing to the super league phase of the quadrennial event.

After suffering a 32-run defeat against England on Sunday, India’s captain Mithali Raj went to the extent of referring to the last league match against Sri Lanka as “do-or-die”.

The four teams are tied at two points, with superior net run rate placing the West Indies ahead of India, England and Sri Lanka.

After Mithali’s dismissal in the quest for quick runs in the first power-play overs, it was Harmanpreet Kaur’s involvement in the recovery act with Karuna Jain, Jhulan Goswami and Reema Malhotra, that saw the match rise to dizzy heights.

Mithali defended her decision to field first and said she would choose to field again if she wins the toss and finds the wicket fresh.

Jhulan Goswami and, to some extent, Amita Sharma exploited the helpful surface on Sunday, but the spinners bowled on both sides of the wicket, erred in length and England scored heavily in the batting Power-Play taken from the 33rd over and also in the last 10 overs.

While India was outwitted by Charlotte Edwards’s knock, her astute leadership and the England team rising to the occasion, Sri Lanka could not stop the big hitting Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin, and was buried under the West Indies’ whopping total of 368.

Sri Lanka has a negative NRR following the 209 run defeat and would have to cause one of the biggest upsets to eliminate the home team from the tournament.

The teams (from):

India: Mithali Raj (capt.), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), Ekta Bisht, Amita Dass, Jhulan Goswami, Karuna Jain, Reema Malhotra, Mona Meshram, M. Thirush Kamini, Sulakshana Naik, Niranjan Nagarajan, Rasnara Parwin, Punam Raut, Shubh Lakshmi Sharma, Gouher Sultana.

Sri Lanka: Shashikala Siriwardena (capt.), Sandamali Dolawatta (vice-captain), Chamari Attapaththu, Eshani Lokusooriya, Lasanthi Madushani, Dilani Manodara, Yasoda Mendis, Udeshika Prabodani, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Inoka Ranaweera, Deepika Rasangika, Sherina Ravikumar, Chamani Senevirathne, Prasadini Weerakkody, Sripali Weerakkody.

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