Given the minimal difference in the performance of the players, home advantage would do India a world of good © AFP
India’s performance in the opening match of the 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup and the matches thereafter show signs of a promising tournament for Mithali Raj and Company, believes Aayush Puthran.
The 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup has got off to an interesting start, especially for Group A. Sri Lanka’s surprise victory over England and India’s comprehensive performance against West Indies augurs well for a possibility of a slightly unpredictable tournament ahead.
Mithali Raj had pinned her hopes on the openers to come good if India were to put up a good show in the tournament. The brilliant opening stands by Thirush Kamini and Poonam Raut has buoyed the Indian team. The partnership at the top not only releases pressure off Mithali, but also allows big hitters like Harmanpreet Kaur to play their natural game. If Raut and Kamini continue in the same vein, one would also see pinch hitters like Jhulan Goswami being promoted up the order more often in the tournament.
While the batting did come good against West Indies, India’s real test would be against England. Georgia Elwiss and Katherine Brunt would be the ones to watch out for with the new ball.
Goswami has been well assisted by Amita Sharma, Niranjana Nagarajan and Gouhar Sultana in the bowling department ,which is sure to trouble most teams in the tournament, given their current form.
India look well placed to make it to the Super Sixes. However, given the structure of the tournament, teams will have to perform consistently rather than rely on one-off upsets. In this regard, India have the arsenal, along with Australia and England to go the distance.
Australia are the firm favourites with all their players performing at their very best. Sri Lanka’s victory over England might have ruffled a few feathers, but expecting them to continue their show in similar fashion throughout the World Cup would be asking for a little too much from them.
South Africa and New Zealand will also be strong contenders for the semi-final spot, but India has a team that has shown marked improvement after ending up last in the 2012 ICC World T20.
What India has to its advantage, if they qualify for the Super Sixes, is the fact that they will be playing all their matches in Mumbai, where they have practiced on the red soil. The conditions will be much different from what Cuttack has to offer, the venue where Australia, New Zealand and South Africa will be playing their group matches. Given the minimal difference in the performance of the players, home advantage would do India a world of good.
While Ellyse Perry, Charlotte Edwards and Lisa Sthalekar would be players hogging the limelight, Jhulan Goswami has shown that she will be the one to watch out for.
Although Australia’s performance in their 91-run victory over Pakistan reinstates their position as favourites in the tournament, this could well be India’s World Cup.
Whether they win it or not, they promise to grab the spotlight for good reasons from the disappointing form of the men’s team and offer some cheer to the cricket fans in India.
(While enjoying the small joys of life, rarely has anything mesmerised Aayush Puthran more than cricket. A student of Journalism in Mumbai, he is trying to figure out two things: ways to make Test cricket a commercial hot property and the best way to beat Mumbai traffic. He has a certain sense of obsession with novelty. He might seem confused, but he is just battling a thousand demons within his mind. Nonetheless, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of coffee!)