| India players during a practice session |
Mumbai: After suffering a 32-run loss against defending champions England, the Mithali Raj-led Indian team will have to pull up their socks before locking horns with Sri Lanka in a must-win game for both the teams in ICC Women’s World Cup at the Brabourne Stadium, here, on Monday.
With all the teams in Group A having won a match each, the hosts will try to keep their dreams alive in the series, by winning the crucial league game.
After a comprehensive 105-run win against West Indies in the opener, the Indian women struggled to chase down England’s target of 272 on Sunday.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, had caused the biggest upset of the tournament with their last-ball win against England but in their second match they lost to West Indies by 209 runs.
A record opening-wicket stand of 175 between India’s first-ever World Cup centurion Murugesan Tirushkamini and Poonam Raut, set up a huge total for the hosts to defend against the Caribbean island side in the first game. Mithali will hope the openers provide them a good platform again, after missing out against England.
With vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur notching up her maiden century on Sunday, India’s middle order will be bolstered, though other players will also need to pitch in.
India have maintained a clean sheet against Sri Lanka in their 17 matches so far, winning 16 of them, while one was a no result. However, India are in no mood to take their neighbours lightly and will like to put their best foot forward in the day/night game.
“If we have to qualify for the Super Six, next game is do-or-die for us. We are not going to take Sri Lanka lightly because on wickets like these, it could be anybody’s game. They have done well against England. But I am confident that we will not disappoint as usual,” Mithali said.
India won the toss against England and elected to field, and the No. 1 ICC women cricketer said her decision will be the same if she wins the toss against the island nation.
“I will see if we are getting a fresh wicket because if it is the same, I will opt to field again. The way Jhulan bowled against Englandů she was brilliant in her first spell. So I wouldn’t want the Lankans to get that kind of an edge. So I will opt to field,” she said.
She admitted that the bowlers need to perform better during the Powerplay, as they conceded 45 runs in five overs.
“The kind of start the bowlers have given us, getting us the first breakthrough, I only hope we don’t give away too many runs in the Powerplay or the last session. That is where the match titled in favour of England. That probably wouldn’t be happening on Monday...” Mithali said.
Her Sri Lankan counterpart Shashikala Siriwardena said her team has no option but to win the match against India.
“The Net Run Rate will be a problem that’s why we have no option but to win,” she said.
As per the format, one team from the group is eliminated and a loss to India will dent Sri Lanka’s dreams.
Sri Lanka will hope their openers get going and try to replicate the century stand they shared against England.
New-ball bowler Kaushalya Lokusooriya, who saved the day against England will be raring to go against India, after her wicket-less performance against West Indies, where she gave away 63 runs in her 7 overs.