India’s record in the shortest format of the game has left a lot to desire, particularly in the World Cup. They did reach the semi-final in the first two editions (2009 and 2010). Since then though, they have exited the tournament without a win (2012), with two wins (2014) and with one in the latest edition (2016).
But a lot has changed since January 2016. After that tournament, they beat Australia 2-1 away from home. The ODI side then reached the final of the World Cup and the likes of Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana joined Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami in being recognised names in the women’s setup.
In the recent past, they faced disappointment in the Asia Cup, losing to Bangladesh in the final – the second time in the tournament that the six-time champions had lost to the same team. But they followed that up by thumping Sri Lanka 4-0.
Captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s biggest headache could be the lack of an experience in the bowling department. Jhulan Goswami recently retired from T20Is and that leaves the inexperienced pace trio of Arundhati Reddy, Pooja Vastrakar and Mansi Joshi at Harmanpreet’s disposal apart from go-to spinner Poonam Yadav. This could be where the captain would bank on some help from coach Ramesh Powar.
The former leg-spinner will be facing his biggest test yet as coach of the squad. He took over in July, after Tushar Arothe’s resignation following a fallout with the senior players, and has reportedly fostered the camaraderie many senior players felt was missing earlier.
On paper, though, it appears that India will be dependent upon their batters to deliver the goods. Smriti Mandhana had gone into overdrive while playing for Lancashire Thunder in England’s T20 Blast and is clearly India’s best batter. Captain Harmanpreet Kaur is always a threat and the same can be said about Veda Krishnamoorthy. Mithali Raj may no longer be the force that she once was but her experience would be valuable for Harmanpreet in the dressing room and in the middle during pressure situations. She also played an encouraging unbeaten knock of 105 against Australia A in Mumbai.