India lock horns with Sri Lanka in must-win WC match
After suffering a 32-run loss against defending champions England, Mithali Raj led Indian team would 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 tomorrow.
With all the teams in Group A having won a match each, the hosts would try to keep their dreams afloat in the series, by winning the crucial league game tomorrow, if they want to qualify for the knock out stages.
After a comprehensive 105-run win against West Indies in the opener, the Indian eves struggled to chase down England's target of 272 yesterday. 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 yesterday.
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 and India would hope the openers provide them a good platform, after they missed out against England.
With vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur notching up her maiden century (unbeaten 107) in the previous game, India's middle order would be bolstered, though other players would have to pitch in to support her. India has 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 would like to put their best foot forward in the day/night game tomorrow.
"If we have to go inside the super six, next game is do or die for us. We are not going to take Sri Lanka lightly because on such wickets especially, it could be anybody's game. They have done well against England. I am hoping that our team puts on a good effort as usual," Indian skipper Mithali Raj said.
India won the toss against England and elected to field, and the no.1 ICC women cricketer said her decision would 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 condition, I will still opt to field. The way Jhulan bowled (against England), she was brilliant in her first spell, so I wouldn't want any other pacer to get that kind of an edge. So I will still opt to field, if we win the toss," she said.
She admitted that the bowlers need to perform better during the power play overs, as they conceded 45 runs in those 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 power play or the last session because that is where we were a little lost in the game against England. That probably wouldn't be happening in the next game...We will try and minimise the boundaries," Raj 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 go and win the match against India," she said.
As per the format, one team from the group is eliminated and a loss to India will dent Sri Lanka's dreams, with West Indies playing England in the other game to be held in the morning at the Mumbai Cricket Association's Bandra Kurla Complex ground. The two teams have a higher net run rate than Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka would 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 would be raring to go against India, after her wicket-less performance against West Indies, where she gave away 63 runs in her 7 overs.
Siriwardena said her side would try to improve their fielding, as it cost them heavily against West Indies. "Our fielders let us down. I am disappointed with it. Eighty per cent of the singles they took should not have been conceded.
"I will still tell the girls to look at the positives from last match and implement those against India. At the same time we will try and learn from mistakes (we committed against West Indies). We will try to win the next match (against India on February 5)," she said.
Sri Lanka: Shashikala Siriwardena (C), Sandamali Dolawatta (VC), Chamari Attapaththu, Eshani Lokusooriya, Lasanthi Madushani, Dilani Manodara, Yasoda Mendis, Udeshika Prabodani, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Inoka Ranaweera, Deepika Rasangika, Sherina Ravikumar, Chamani Senevirathne, Prasadini Weerakkody, Sripali Weerakkody.
India: Mithali Raj (C), Harmanpreet Kaur (VC), Ekta Bisht, Amita Dass, Jhulan Goswami, Karuna Jain, Reema Malhotra, Mona Meshram, Thirushkamini Murugesan, Sulakshana Naik, Niranjan Nagarajan, Rasnara Parwin, Poonam Raut, Shubh Lakshmi Sharma, Gouher Sultana.