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ICC Women's World Cup: Team India face England challenge in opener

Mithali Raj
Mithali Raj

A strong tune-up notwithstanding, India will have their task cut out when they lock horns with title contenders England in the tournament-opener of the ICC Women's World Cup here today.

India have had an impressive build-up to the 50-over showpiece, beating South Africa by eights wickets in the final of the Quadrangular series recently. The 2005 runners-up might have directly qualified for the World Cup 2017 had they played their three games against Pakistan in the Women's Championship and not forfeited the six points. India will be playing the tournament under the experienced Mithali Raj, who recently became the third player to lead her team in 100 ODIs.

Mithali high on form
Raj, whose first target is to make the semi-finals, is coming off a record-breaking six successive half centuries, and she would look to continue in same vein. The Quadrangular tournament also saw a record opening stand of 320 by Deepti Sharma and Poonam Raut against Ireland, the first partnership of more than 300 runs in women's cricket.

Smriti boost for India
While the Indian batting revolves around Raj, Deepti has also provided some good starts lately. Smriti Mandhana has returned from injury to add to the side's strengths, while Raut and Mona Meshram have been doing well on their comebacks.

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