A combination of fire and ice, the coolness of a cucumber and the intensity of molten lava, power and grit, intelligence and application: how else can the current form of the India Women’s Cricket team be defined?
They seem to be having the winning mantra that few other teams seem to be carrying. There’s a reason why the moment anyone sees the likes of Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur and, Shikha Pandey walk together- there’s both a sense of immense joy as well as danger. Joy, of course, for the sheer fact that among the pantheons of modern day stars, the Indian Women’s Cricket Team is right among the celebrated contemporaries of the sport. And fear, because, quite simply, when the team plays to its full strength, there aren’t many in the realm of modern cricket that can match the calibre of this truly dangerous side.
If the above, in any way looks like a misplaced assertion or misappropriated fact, then simply looking at the past scorecards of the just-concluded games in the Asia Cup can evoke dangers about India Women’s Cricket team.
Having mauled Malaysia, the hosts of the 2018 Asia Cup by a staggering margin of 142 runs on June 3, 2018, the India Women’s Cricket team thumped Thailand by 66 runs, to clinch its second consecutive win from as many games.
So far, in the Women’s Asia Cup 2018, India clearly seem to be the team to beat. While at the outset, the batswomen could be attributed for earning India two brilliant wins, if you cared to dive a little deeper into the scoreboard, then you’d find that it’s the bowlers as well, who’ve been contributing greatly.
So far, under the helm of mercurial leader, Harmanpreet Kaur, India have won 2 games and that too by hefty margins. First came the side of hosts Malaysia to ensure a torrid 142-run loss. Then, in the immediate next game, another South Asian unit, Thailand had to bear the brunt of playing India, as any other expression, given India’s clinical trumping of the Thai side, may never truly suffice. In defeating Thailand by 66-runs, there is a big reason as to why the Harmanpreet-led unit has emerged as the team to beat so far.
India’s batswomen have been in a glorious run
Led by the ODI captain and experienced old-hand Mithali Raj’s superb, very imperious unbeaten 97 run-knock, that saw Malaysia run into the wrong end of the stick, India’s batting has quite simply been, top notch. And in just 2 games down the line, it seems some serious fireworks are on their way.
In a game where one doesn’t quite know how ODI captain Raj failed to reach the three-figure mark, the dashing right-handed batswoman clubbed the Malay bowlers as if intending to sandwich them between ferocity and stylish accumulation of runs.
That’s about Mithali Raj, the other batswomen too, have demonstrated an appetite for destruction. In the just-concluded game against Thailand, the second team India consecutively beat, Smriti Mandhana, among the finest batswomen in the business got off to a flying start in the tournament.
Scoring 22 off just 22, Smriti opened the gaps on either side and seemed determined to continue before Boochatham clinched her vital wicket. Yet, in the same contest, T20 leader and familiar run-plunderer, Harmanpreet Kaur seemed in great touch as well.
Scoring one of the characteristic cameos that she so often does, in a 17-ball-27, Harmanpreet exhibited that mighty hitting we have grown accustomed to seeing and those 3 lofted sixes were truly worth seeing. In here, lies a secret sort of warning to the teams that are bowling to Indian batswomen in the current tournament. Should Mithali Raj be back in the side for the next game with Mandhana and Kaur looking in fine knick already, it could well get a bit ugly for bowlers in this series.
India has great spin potential
From the two back to back victories that India collected in as many days ever since the start of its campaign in the 2018 Asia Cup, its spinners have been on the charge. Even as the fast bowlers, familiar champions, Shikha Pandey and Pooja Vastrakar have collected 1 and 4 wickets respectively, the major damage has been inflicted by the spin-bowling department.
In the game against Malaysia, a contest as good as any you’d ever see (particularly if one’s a fan of the India women’s cricket team) Anuja Patil and Poonam Yadav collected 2 wickets apiece. In the next contest, a 66-run drubbing handed to Thailand, spinners again shone brightly. While Deepti Sharma emerged with a vital 2-for destroying Thailand’s lower-order, vulnerable thanks to weakenings against the spin, captain Harmanpreet emerged with a vital 3-for, her best against Thai side.
India has just not allowed their opponents to settle down
A big reason why as to the India Women’s team is on a roll in this tournament is that it’s hardly allowed its opponents to settle down. So far, viewers have been seeing a complete domination of India in all three departments of the game. The fielding in the outfield has been key in addition to good, confident batting from the very top of the order.
As it is, a key aspect of any T20 contest is always about making the impact from the first ball of a game. As there’s paucity of time, T20s warrant quickfire fifties and breezy cameos. India have demonstrated all of this from the two games so far. Vastrakar, Pandey have all displayed athleticism in the field and safe fielding in the outfield and this has added a new dimension to India’s measured approach so far in the tournament.
All that said, while defeating Thailand and Malaysia may only be a warm-up of sorts for the Harmanpreet Kaur-led side, the true test of this side’s potential would be in the course of the immediate future. Fireworks can be expected when India meet a surprising Bangladesh unit, who’ve just only beat Pakistan, led by an ever-competitive Sana Mir.
What also sets India in a league of its own is the phenomenal backing of numbers. No other side from the 6 current units possesses a record to even match India’s in the Women’s Asia Cup, of which they are the current defenders.
What’ll also be arguably the most keenly-followed contest thus far of the 2018 Asia Cup will be when the two sub-continental giants meet. Certainly, few games pack such a punch as an India versus Pakistan isn’t it?