After squandering a chance to win their first Group A match against Australia, India will be seeking better show in batting and bowling in a crucial game against Pakistan at Edgbaston on Sunday. Touted as a match of catching a wide public interest due to the large number of Indian and Pakistani-origin people residing in the city, expect the stadium to be a full house when Harmanpreet Kaur and Bismah Maroof lead their respective teams on the field in a match where the future of their campaign in the tournament hinges heavily.
A win for either of them means the chance for a medal will be alive while a loss would put either of the teams on the brink of an early exit from the competition. On a sunny Friday, as women’s T20 cricket made its debut in the Commonwealth Games, India, captain Harmanpreet led the way with the bat, making 52 off 34 balls and was supported by opener Shafali Verma’s 48 off 33 balls in posting 154 on board.
India were given a real chance to win when pacer Renuka Thakur took 4-18, bowling away Australia’s top four batting line-up of Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning and Tahlia McGrath. At 49-5, India had a real chance of victory.
But apart from Renuka and Deepti Sharma, India’s bowling made errors in line and length as Ashleigh Gardner, Grace Harris and Alana King took Australia to a come-from-behind win.
If India are to keep themselves alive in the competition, they will need better efforts from bowlers like Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Radha Yadav and Meghna Singh to stop the Pakistan batters from getting huge runs.
They might look at getting experienced all-rounder Sneh Rana back in the eleven to strengthen themselves in batting and bowling with pace all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar yet to arrive in Birmingham due to being infected with Covid-19.
Similarly, in the batting department, they would want for Smriti Mandhana to convert her start into a big score and hope for Yastika Bhatia as well as Jemimah Rodrigues to maintain the tempo of the scoreboard.
Just like India, Pakistan also had to suffer a loss in their opening match, being defeated by 15 runs from Barbados. Veteran all-rounder Nida Dar holds the key for Pakistan, seen from her unbeaten 50 off 31 balls when other batters failed to hang around at the crease. Bismah and other batters will have to get going to put some runs on board.
Pacers Diana Baig and Fatima Sana have the capability of keeping the batters in check with their accurate line and length. They would like for their spinners like Nida, Anam Amin and young leg-spinner Tuba Hassan to get some wickets and stem the run flow.
Though Australia v Barbados is happening later in the day. But the eyes of the fans in India and Pakistan will be on the match between the cross-border neighbours, which promises to write another exciting chapter in the journey of women’s T20 cricket in the Commonwealth Games.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Shafali Verma, S. Meghana, Taniyaa Sapna Bhatia (wicket-keeper), Yastika Bhatia (wicket-keeper), Deepti Sharma, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur, Jemimah Rodrigues, Radha Yadav, Harleen Deol and Sneh Rana.
Pakistan: Bismah Maroof (captain), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Gul Feroza, Iram Javed, Kainat Imtiaz, Muneeba Ali Siddiqui, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal and Tuba Hassan