ICC Women’s World Cup 2017: Mithali Raj-led India face Australia, aim for semis berth | cricket | Hindustan Times
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ICC Women’s World Cup 2017: Mithali Raj-led India face Australia, aim for semis berth

Despite winning four games each, both India and Australia are in search of a place in the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017.

cricket Updated: Jul 11, 2017 15:03 IST
HT Correspondent
India take on Australia in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 in Bristol on Wednesday.
India take on Australia in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 in Bristol on Wednesday.(Reuters)

Reeling from heart-breaking defeats in their previous matches, both India and Australia will take the field on Wednesday at Bristol with the singular objective to seal a place in the semi-finals of the ongoing ICC Women’s World Cup 2017.

India and Australia have been at their dominating best in this tournament, but defeats for both in their previous matches served a reality check.

While Australia lost a thrilling encounter by a mere three runs to England — their first defeat in more than 24 years to their arch rivals — India were pummelled by South Africa by a huge margin.

South Africa have shown they can be ruthless too in this tournament and India will need a strong batting performance to recover from a depleting 115-run defeat in their previous clash.

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India were at their best in the first four games of the tournament, but the Mithali Raj-led team now faces a stiff challenge to qualify for the final four. India’s next two fixtures are against Australia and New Zealand, and India need at least one win to make it to the semi-finals.

The form of Smriti Mandhana would be a cause of concern for India. Smriti started off the tournament with a bang, but her bat has gone quiet in the last two matches.

India will face an uphill task especially against the tournament’s red-hot favourite, Australia, against whom they have a poor record. India have won a mere eight out of 41 matches against Australia.

India will hope that the clash on Wednesday will bring them their ninth overall win over Australia and also a berth in the semi-finals.

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“We need to pull ourselves back from the defeat. The best cricket that we can play is there, so hopefully it will come against Australia. Our initial breakthrough has been a concern for us. We need to play more attacking cricket, similar to that of South Africa. We need to plan better for that,” said Shikha Pandey.

“Even before the World Cup started, we said that we were going to do our best and not have to depend on other teams. Obviously, all that now comes into the picture, so we’ll do what we do best – that is winning the next two games, and then we’ll see what happens.”

Meg Lanning will be one of Australia’s many threats to India. The captain is making a return from a shoulder injury and is looking to waste no time in getting back to peak form.

“Against England was not our best performance with the ball but hopefully we can learn from that pretty quickly and come back for India. There are no easy games from here for us and the games against India and South Africa are going to be tricky. We have to bounce back and put on a strong performance,” Meg said.

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“Going forward, we need to look at the types of bowlers that are tying us down. Alex Hartley had a good game but perhaps we could have bit a put more pressure on her. We’ve spoken about it a fair bit as a bowling unit trying to minimise those extras and 32 wides is way too many and something we are going to have to improve on moving forward.”

India and Australia have four wins each out of five matches so far, but a better Net Run Rate (NRR) of 1.06 puts Australia at No.2 in the points table. Hosts England are at the top with four wins in five matches as well, but they have the best NRR (1.16) among all competing teams.

Squads:

Australia: Meg Lanning (captain), Sarah Aley, Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton, Alex Blackwell, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani and Amanda-Jade Wellington.

India: Mithali Raj (captain), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smrti Mandhana, Mona Meshram, Shikha Pandey, Poonam, Nuzhat Parween, Punam Raut, Deepti Sharma and Sushma Verma.