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Focus on World Cup as India, England search for answers in three-match T20I series

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Focus on World Cup as India, England search for answers in three-match T20I series

The last time India defeated England in a Women’s T20I match was in 2018 and therefore the three-match series starting at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday will be a huge challenge for the hosts.

Will the Indian Women’s team led by Harmanpreet Kaur be able to get the better of England in the series? That is the question foremost in the minds of the fans as both India Women and England Women get ready for the first match of the three-match T20I series to be played at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday.

The second match will be played at the same venue on December 9 followed by the third and final T20I the next day. The two teams will clash in the one-off Test at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai from December 14.

Besides, England’s overwhelming record against them, the Indian Women will also have to overcome some other challenges in this series. They will be playing their first international match after the Asian Games final against Sri Lanka in September 2023 and will be taking on England for the first time since February 18, 2023, when they lost in a preliminary group encounter in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup at Gqeberha, South Africa.

Incidentally, England Women also played their last international match against Sri Lanka — the third game of the ODI series at Northampton that produced no result.

The Indians will be hoping to bank on the home conditions which incidentally will not be that alien for England players like skipper Heather Knight, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Sophie Ecclestone, Sophia Dunkley and Alice Capsey who were part of the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) and now know the Indian players well having shared the dressing room with some of them and seen the others from close quarters.

But England Women captain Heather Knight said that it works both ways as the Indian players too may have spotted the strengths and weaknesses of her players during the WPL.

“I think it works both ways. Obviously, I know those players better coming into the squad, but they also know my game better and things like that. But yeah, I think it creates quite an exciting dynamic, doesn’t it? And different sorts of narratives playing against your teammates from WPL. And it’s the same in some of the other teams as well. So yeah, I think it’s going to be a brilliant series,” said Heather Knight.

The Indian team will be banking on their strong top-order batting and spin bowling in this series, hoping to get the most from Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur. In the bowling department, all eyes will be on spinners Shreyanka Patil and Saika Ishaque, the two finds of the WPL who will be hoping to make their international debut. In the pace department, the focus will be on medium pacer Titas Sadhu. who made her debut against Bangladesh earlier this year.

England will be without offspinner Charlie Dean, who is still recovering from the stomach bug she picked while playing for England A against India A in a three-match T20 series. Skipper Heather Knight said “She is the only one that is in potential doubt. We have had a strict quarantine and transition period to come across to the England team [from the A side]. We’ll see how she is [as the series progresses].”

With Dean doubtful, England will look to left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone and leg-spinner Sarah Glenn with part-time offspinner Alice Capsey contributing to the spin bowling department. Ecclestone too is coming back from shoulder surgery. She had dislocated her right shoulder while warming up for Manchester Originals’ match against Southern Brave in the women’s Hundred and had to pull out of the Women’s Big Bash League.

In the batting department, skipper Heather Knight will lead the charge and is hoping that other batters too will get used to the bounce and movement offered by the Wankhede pitch early in the innings.

Knight said that mastering the conditions will be a challenge for her players. She said it was also a good thing that they will be playing all matches in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.

“The nets are here on the edge of the square, so it gives you a good indication of how the pitch is going to play. The thing with Wankhede is that it bounces more than you expect, which is different from Brabourne Stadium where we played a lot of WPL games, where it skids a little bit more. So it is about getting used to that. There was a little bit of turn on offer in the nets. But I expect the main wicket to not spin much. I watched the Ind A vs ENG A stuff so got a good gauge of what conditions to expect. The outfield is quick as well,” she said.

England are coming from a series loss to Sri Lanka in the shorter format and will be hoping to bounce back against India as they prepare for the Women’s T20 World Cup in 2024.

The Indians have been in Mumbai since December 2 and are also banking on crowd support and local conditions to face the England challenge.

Former Mumbai batter Amol Muzumdar, who will be making his debut as Head Coach, said it will be a challenging series for both him and the players. He said England will be a tough opponent and the series against them and the subsequent outings against World Champions Australia will show the team where it stands.

Overall, the Indian women’s team has done well this season winning gold in the Asian Games, silver in the Commonwealth Games, winning a bilateral series against Bangladesh and reaching the final of the triangular series in South Africa, which had West Indies as the third side. It is now time for them to translate the confidence gained from those outings into success against England.

–Ajit Weekly News


News Credits – I A N S

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