ICC Women’s World Cup: India’s strengths and weaknesses ahead of final
Mithali Raj’s India side are on step away from creating history as they take on England in the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup at Lord’s. Here are the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian cricket team.cricket Updated: Jul 22, 2017 22:50 IST
Mithali Raj’s India side have entered the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup for the first time after 12 years. Having tasted defeated in 2005, India will be desperate to avoid a slip-up and clinch the title for the first time. The team have been in magnificent form, having won five out of seven games. However, having dumped six-time champions Australia out of the tournament, the team has belief as they head into the final against England, whom they defeated in the league game.
Ahead of the final, here are the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian cricket team.
India’s top four — Punam Raut, Smriti Mandhana, skipper Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur — have all proved their mettle in the tournament with each of them having a century under their belt to show for. The firepower at the top also eases pressure on players like Veda Krishnamurthy to come down the order and swing the bat for a few quickfire knocks. Even if one of the four manage to score big on Sunday, India should have a formidable total on the board.
The spin trio of Deepti Sharma (12), Poonam Yadav (9) and Ekta Bisht (9) have account for 30 wickets taken by the Indians so far and it displays the bowling variety and depth. In England where conditions naturally tend to favour fast bowlers, surprisingly, these three have changed the course of the match with Shikha Pandey (8) Jhulan Goswami (7) also chipping in. The bowling unit has been superb throughout the tournament and has helped the side defend paltry totals as well.
India started the tournament on a brilliant note with four wins on the trot but lost momentum as they lost to South Africa and Australia in consecutive matches. In the virtual quarter-final clash against New Zealand, they not only won by a thumping 186-run margin, but they also found a new alternative in the form of Rajeshwari Gayakwad who picked up a five-for in what was her first game of the tournament. They registered a brilliant victory over six-time champions Australia to reach the final where they take on England, who they’ve already defeated in the group stages.
While the four centurions have powered India to tall totals in the tournament so far, India can also count themselves to be lucky as barring Mithali Raj, none of the other batsmen have been consistent enough. Smriti Mandhana is yet to cross the 15-run mark since her unbeaten ton in the second game while Punam Raut and Harmanpreet Kaur have just one half-century to their name besides the ton.
Barring the first game, the highest Punam Raut and Smriti Mandhana have managed to stitch together in the seven games is just 21 beside five single digit scores. Both Mandhana and Raut have centuries to their name but in a final, it would be utmost importance for the openers to build a solid platform for the rest to follow.
Although India had dismissed four English batters through run-outs in the very first group game of the tournament, they’ve otherwise been pretty shoddy in the field so far. At least 11 catches have been dropped and another eight run-out chances not been converted, including four in a single game against Sri Lanka. England won’t be an easy lot to beat and they’ll ensure they don’t repeat their first game miseries against India.