ICC Women’s World T20: Harmanpreet Kaur’s spin-heavy India face guile of New Zealand
Poonam Yadav is this year's highest wicket-taker in Women's T20Is. @Getty

India Women will expect no less than the semi-finals at the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, having reached the final of last year’s 50-over World Cup in England and with a 12-6 record in T20Is this year.

Harmanpreet Kaur’s team – with an average age of 24 – begin their World T20 campaign against New Zealand Women in Guyana on Friday as the tournament opens with a cracking match, pitting talent and experience on both sides together. Harmanpreet has hailed her vice-captain and opener Smriti Mandhana as the game-changer, and with Mithali Raj, Jemimah Rodrigues, Ekta Bisht, Deepti Sharma and Poonam Yadav in the ranks, indeed India Women are the team to beat. India are pooled with three-time winners Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Ireland at the World T20, and will be aware of what needs to be done.

Their counterparts have struggled to dominate on the global stage, and last reached the final of any ICC event in 2010. A poor World Cup last year, where New Zealand Women finished fifth with three wins out of seven games, was followed by a 4-0 sweep of Pakistan Women in November 2017 before West Indies Women were beaten 4-0 in March this year. New Zealand Women then stormed to the final of a tri-series in England, losing to the hosts by seven wickets, and most recently were beaten 0-3 by Australia last month.

Suzie Bates has scored the most runs in Women's T20Is in 2018
Suzie Bates has scored the most runs in Women’s T20Is in 2018. @Getty

They possess plenty of experience in skipper Amy Satterthwaite, Suzie Bates, Sophie Divine and Leigh Kasperek to go with younger talent such as Amelia Kerr, Hannah Rowe and Hayley Jensen, and if this mix meshes successfully on the field, the knockouts look certain.

Venue: Providence Stadium, Guyana

Time: 08:30pm IST

Weather: Isolated thunderstorms, high of 31 degrees

Team News

India 

India have taken five spinners to the Caribbean, which indicates how they believe matches can be won. They beat England by 11 runs in their final warm-up game on Thursday, in which all eight English wickets to fall went to India’s spinners.

Bisht, 32, is one of three India Women cricketers to have played in the West Indies – Harmanpreet and Mithali the others – but may not start on Saturday with Taniya Bhatia the likelier choice for the wicketkeeper’s role having done the job this season.

Probable XI: 1 Mithali Raj, 2 Smriti Mandhana, 3 Jemimah Rodrigues, 4 Harmanpreet Kaur (capt), 5 Veda Krishnamurthy, 6 Anuja Patil, 7 Taniya Bhatia (wk), 8 Deepti Sharma, 9 Arundhati Reddy, 10 Radha Yadav, 11 Poonam Yadav

New Zealand 

New Zealand could be tempted to make changes to the side that lost to Australia last month, but given that was the best team available it is likely they persist.

Probable XI: 1 Suzie Bates, 2 Sophie Devine, 3 Jess Watkin, 4 Amy Satterthwaite (capt), 5 Katey Martin (wk), 6 Maddy Green, 7 Bernadine Bezuidenhout, 8 Hayley Jensen, 9 Amelia Kerr, 10 Leigh Kasperek, 11 Lea Tahuhu

Statistics

- New Zealand’s Suzie Bates is the top run-getter in Women’s T20Is this year with 509 at 56.55 from 12 innings.

- For India, the most is Harmanpreet’s 480 followed by Mithali (468) and Mandhana (444).

- Poonam Yadav’s 27 wickets are the most by any bowler in Women’s T20Is this year.

Quotes

“I think we know what India is going to throw at us. The Indians spin the ball extremely well. What they showed against England, is they put the ball in really good areas and ask a lot of the batter.” – Satterthwaite

“I have learned how I can stay calm. Now it’s not just about how I am playing for my team, but how can I [inspire] performance from other players also.” – Harmanpreet