Kaur declared fit for Derby clash against Pakistan, another chapter in Trans-Tasman contest, and spotlight on Athapaththu
Day 9 – Sunday, July 2
Australia v New Zealand, Bristol
England v Sri Lanka, Taunton
India v Pakistan, Derby
South Africa v Windies, Leicester
Match in focus
It’s the first Super Sunday of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, and there is a lot at stake. A new chapter will be added to the Trans-Tasman rivalry when Suzie Bates, in her 100th One-Day International, leads New Zealand against Australia in Bristol. Over at Taunton, England would want to get Chamari Athapaththu early as it looks for its second consecutive win after beating Pakistan on Tuesday. South Africa, who has three points in two games, would be eyeing a win over Windies in order to strengthen its position in the race for a semi-final spot. But none of these three games can match the excitement that a clash between India and Pakistan brings.
India has never lost to Pakistan in an One-Day International, and is clearly the favourite on paper going into its third game of the World Cup. That, however, means little because of how fans perceive this rivalry. They would want to see some spice on the field. Aware for the need to diffuse any kind of tension, Mithali Raj and Sana Mir, the two captains, came for the pre-match press conference instead of sending anyone else.
With wins against England and Windies, India is clearly better placed. But it still has areas to improve. The pace bowlers have not yet come to the party, and the fielding, specifically the catching, needs a bit more attention. Meanwhile, Pakistan has played two contrasting games. After a splendid bowling display against South Africa where it almost defended 206, it conceded 377 against England. Like Windies, it is the other team with two losses in the tournament so far and would need a win to stay afloat.
Harmanpreet Kaur dislocated her left ring finger while fielding against Windies, but was fit to return and bowl a few overs. She carried a smile on her face even though the finger remained taped. She is fit, meaning India would in all probability go with the same XI.
Pakistan will be without Bismah Maroof, their premier batter, who injured her right shoulder while fielding against England. Iram Javed, the medium pacer, has replaced her, and it remains to be seen if Pakistan goes with three seamers.
Players in focus
Deepti Sharma: Deepti’s offspin has been instrumental in India controlling the middle overs on the field. She has been equally good with her fielding, producing one crucial direct hit in the game against England. She did not click against Windies with the bat, but has been in good touch in recent past.
Chamari Athapaththu: Athapaththu has taken a special liking for the Taunton ground. After making 53 against New Zealand, she stole the limelight with an unbeaten 178 against Australia – one of the best innings in the history of women’s cricket. The only batter with 200-plus runs in the competition, she has all eyes on her.
What they said
Mithali Raj: Honestly, this competition is very open. We have seen amazing performances from different players and different teams. Though Pakistan has lost two games, we will not look over confident against them tomorrow. We will look at it as one more game, one more opponent we need to beat to qualify for the semifinals. Derby is like a home ground for us. This is our second game here. We have two more games. Since we played the first game against England, we are aware how the wicket is.
Sana Mir: The results have not been in our favour. We played one really good game and in the other we were not on the mark as far as international cricket is concerned. We want to make up for that game and record our first win of the tournament. (Bismah) has been the most experienced player for us, and she has been performing really well ever since we came to England. This is an opportunity for other players to step up and do what Bismah has been doing for us.
Suzie Bates: There is not too much of the unknown in terms of how much we play each other whether it’s in the Big Bash (League) or in the recent Rose Bowl series. Probably helps me as captain in terms of planning, because you are clued into what their players do. But on the flip side, they are really aware of our strengths and weaknesses as well. Whenever we play Australia, it’s a very competitive match and I am sure in a World Cup it’s going to be no different.
India: Mithali Raj (capt), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Mona Meshram, Nuzhat Parween, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Raut, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma, Poonam Yadav.
Pakistan: Sana Mir (capt), Ayesha Zafar, Bibi Nahida Khan, Marina Iqbal, Iram Javed, Javeria Khan, Syeda Nain Fatima Abidi, Sidra Nawaz (wk), Kainat Imtiaz, Asmavia Iqbal, Diana Baig, Waheeda Akhtar, Nashra Sandhu, Ghulam Fatima, Sadia Yousuf.