NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News  » Cricket » Women's World Cup: Under-pressure India face NZ in virtual quarter-final

Women's World Cup: Under-pressure India face NZ in virtual quarter-final

July 14, 2017 12:22 IST

Mithali Raj expects her teammates to pull themselves up after the two defeats

IMAGE: Mithali Raj expects her teammates to pull themselves up after the two defeats. Photograph: ICC/Twitter

Their confidence on a low after two consecutive defeats, India face a do-or-die situation when they take on New Zealand in what can be termed as a virtual quarter-final of the ICC Women's World Cup in Derby on Saturday.

Hanging on to fourth spot on the points table, a loss tomorrow will shatter India's semi-final hopes.

After starting the tournament on a promising note with four wins on the trot, India slumped to their second straight loss on Wednesday.

At Bristol, they were defeated by a dominant Australia by eight wickets, despite a fighting century from Punam Raut, and a record-breaking 69 from captain Mithali Raj.

Whoever wins tomorrow will secure the last remaining semi-final spot with hosts England, South Africa and defending champions Australia having already qualified for the last four.

Heading into the last league games, England, South Africa and Australia will primarily play for position in the semi-final but for India and New Zealand it is a do-or-die situation.

The Indians only have themselves to blame for their current situation as they batted unexpectedly slow on a track that was offering a bit of turn and grip.

India skipper Mithali Raj has demanded improvement from her troops and believes the ability to cope with the pressure of a must-win game will be the deciding factor.

“You can’t just give up because you lose one game,” said Raj.

“India has always had the problem that when faced with the crunch matches, the team does not necessarily step up.

“If it is a very crucial game in the T20s, the World Cup, or even just that dictates a series win, we tend to fall down in that match.

“The girls are so talented, but it’s just a matter of how well they pull themselves up after a defeat. That’s what makes world champions," Mithali said at the pre-match press conference on Friday.

Spinner Deepti Sharma, along with other bowlers will have to come good on the day 

IMAGE: Spinner Deepti Sharma, along with other bowlers will have to come good on the day. Photograph: ICC/Twitter

In the previous match, after the early dismissal of Smriti Mandhana, skipper Raj and Raut started slowly, allowing the Australian spinners to dictate terms.

In trying to stabilise the innings after an early wicket, Raj, who became the highest ODI run-scorer during that knock and the first woman to score more than 6,000 ODI runs, played uncharacteristically slow, using up 54 balls for her first 20 runs, and finished on a 114-ball 69.

Opener Mandhana's bat surprisingly became quite after impressive knocks in the first two games and India would be hoping for the left-hander to deliver the goods tomorrow set the platform for the innings.

India would expect the likes of Mandhana, Raut and Harmanpreet Kaur, besides Deepti Sharma and Raj to fire in unison against the dangerous New Zealand.

On the bowling front, pace spearhead Jhulan Goswami has looked a pale shadow of herself in the tournament so far and the Indians would be relying on their spinners -- Deepti Sharma, Ekta Bisht, Harmanpreet and Poonam Yadav to take the responsibility on their shoulders. 

Fielding too has been a problem area for India throughout the tournament. In the first three games alone, the Indians dropped eight catches.

In the game against South Africa, they allowed at least 10 runs on the field through misfields while against Australia, there were some very basic mistakes.

And Mithali is quick to point out that the team needs to pull up their socks.

“As a team, we have to step up. If we perform again like against Australia it will not be enough. We really have to improve all over the pitch, especially producing more consistency from how we are bowling and fielding.

“I think our bowlers need to more consistent in terms of their areas and bowling the good balls," she said.

New Zealand captain Suzie Bates

IMAGE: New Zealand captain Suzie Bates. Photograph: ICC/Twitter

Just like India, New Zealand are also facing a must-win situation and are currently lying at the fifth spot in the standings with seven points from eight games.

New Zealand's 75-run loss to England in their last match has put them in a precarious position.

The equation is simple for the White Ferns heading into the game against India. A loss will see them pack their bags while a win will knock India out.

If New Zealand win and Australia beat South Africa by a big margin, they could also move to the third spot.

And captain Bates is staying positive heading into the decider.

“We've played some really good cricket and only lost to England and Australia, so it’s not all doom and gloom,” she said.

“We've got what is basically a quarter-final against India and we know we can beat them. But we've got to play well because one of us is going home.

“It’s interesting because in this tournament we’ve seen every game as a must-win and we’ve played like that.

 “We’ve had one washout and then losses against Australia and England but we’ve played some really good cricket.

“We’ve played the style we wanted to play and, look, at least our destiny is in our own hands. We know that if we beat India on Saturday, then we get to stay here,” she added.

Teams (from):

India: Mithali Raj (captain), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smrti Mandhana, Mona Meshram, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, Nuzhat Parween, Punam Raut, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma, Smriti Mandhana.

New Zealand: Suzie Bates (captain), Amy Satterthwaite, Erin Bermingham, Sophie Devine, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Katey Martin, Thamsyn Newton, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu.