India has had a strong run in One-Day Internationals and might have just qualified directly for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 had it played its three games against Pakistan in the ICC Women’s Championship and not forfeited the six points. It finished fifth on the table with 19 points and had to go through the qualifier in Sri Lanka where it went undefeated and won a thrilling final against South Africa by one wicket, off the last ball of the match, thanks to the heroics of Harmanpreet Kaur.
India will be playing under the experienced Mithali Raj who recently became the third player to lead her team in 100 ODIs.
The batting will again revolve around Raj, who is one of the most prolific run-scorers in women’s cricket and is currently ranked NO.2 in ICC rankings. Deepti Sharma has provided India with some good starts lately. With Smriti Mandhana returning from injury, and Poonam Raut and Mona Meshram doing well on their comebacks – Poonam put together a record 320-run partnership with Deepti against Ireland in the quadrangular series in South Africa – the team will have a tricky job choosing an opening pair.
Jhulan Goswami, the highest wicket-taker in ODI history, will lead the bowling attack. She will find support in Shikha Pandey with the new ball while Ekta Bisht will lead a strong spin department. They are ranked in the top 20 of ICC bowling rankings.
India comprehensively won its last four ODI series, first whitewashing Sri Lanka and the West Indies at home and then beating South Africa in the finals of qualifier as well as the quadrangular series. During this period, it won 16 out of the 17 games played.
PREVIOUS WORLD CUPS
India has featured in eight of the 10 World Cups played so far, with the first being in 1978. Its best performance came in the 2005 edition when the side led by Raj reached the final. However, unused to the pressure of the big stage, it faltered against Australia. In 2013 at home, it crashed out in the group stage, a loss to Sri Lanka hurting it badly.
Raj, who will be playing in her record-equalling fifth World Cup, is India’s leading run-scorer in the tournament with 730 runs at an average of 60.83. This year, she has played six innings so far and has scored a half-century in each of them. In her last 15 innings, she has scored 833 runs at a Bradmanesque average of 104.12 with 10 scores of 50 or more.
Mithali Raj (capt), Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Poonam Raut, Deepti Sharma, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, Ekta Bisht, Sushma Verma (wk), Mansi Joshi, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Nuzhat Parween (wk).
24 June: England Women v India Women in Derby
29 June: West Indies Women v India Women in Taunton
2 July: India Women v Pakistan Women in Derby
5 July: Sri Lanka Women v India Women in Derby
8 July: South Africa Women v India Women in Leicester
12 July: Australia Women v India Women in Bristol
15 July: India Women v New Zealand Women in Derby