From the onset of September 15, 2018, the action in the women’s game will move to Sri Lanka, the tiny island paradise holding a sea-size of beauty and idyllic cricketing pleasures.
But when you know what’s at stake- knowing there are 3 ODIs and as many as 5 T20s- you understand this isn’t a time for relaxation but to rather pull up one’s sock.
Each contest at a time regardless of venue or destination offers the key prospect of galvanising one’s game in the bid to steady the team’s ship on course for the most-anticipated women’s tournament of the year. One can call the ICC Women’s World T20 the mother of all sporting battles.
Every run scored, boundary scored, lofty stroke punched and wicket clinched will reflect polarising fortunes for the gainers and the vindictive as well as hold key to understanding the form of players from both ends.
One of the most spectacular facets of this series would be to evidence an engaging battle of the likes between a Mithali versus Shashikala, Smriti versus Hasini Perera, Harmanpreet versus Hansika and the likes.
The India Women’s team, under the ODI leadership of Mithali Raj, would be mindful of not cutting any corners in their upcoming tour to Sri Lanka. They are aware of who they are up against; a talented albeit capricious lot that cannot ever be taken lightly.
Chances are, for a team that takes each game at a time, and is ever willing to learn from past mistakes; looking to improve, would be expected to bring its A-game on the table.
This being Sri Lanka’s home turf, the India Women’s team would be mindful of not backing on past laurels, even if that means, the Mithali Raj-powered unit holding the fort in a massively-entertaining contest held in the 2017 Women’s World Cup.
While Sri Lanka would come hard at India and would be looking to build their platform for an interesting World T20 campaign that begins later, in the West Indies, it’ll be a chance for key players to step up the ante.
To that end, while a lot many eyes will be glued to the screens in a bid to witness some of the most emphatic names from the Indian camp- Harmanpreet, in lieu of her consistency throughout the Asia cup, Mithali for her experience, Jhulan for being the pace spearhead in the bowling cauldron and, Smriti at the back of her genius run in England- there’s little sense in undermining Sri Lanka.
Should Chamari Atapattu play, the batswoman responsible for 3 ODI hundreds and a highest score of 178, that too in a world cup, Sri Lanka would fancy their chances. She was part of the cricketing action involving Pakistan but she missed out on the Asia Cup. Once her name features on the list of the squad, there will be high hopes. It will inspire a lot of confidence for a handy troika of Sri Lankan batswomen, up the order, involving Mendis, Hansika, Sanjeewani that among the ranks would be arguably, one of the most devastating batswomen in the contemporary game.
One of the players everyone will watch out for could be Dilani Manodara. The experienced, seen in great form against the West Indies, earlier, would be looking to play a handy part for her side. With over 1300 ODI runs, supported by 3 fifties, if there’s a thing that the keeping-batswoman would love to improve would be her strike-rate, especially this being an ODI and T20 series.
Moreover, the Sri Lankan bowlers, aware of the damage that can inflicted by an in-form trinity of Harman, Mithali and Smiriti on the one hand and the experienced presence of Deepti Sharma and rising Jemimah Rodriguez, on the other will look to contain the flow of runs.
In so doing, there will be a lot of responsibility on the young shoulders of Ranasinghe and Ama Kanchana. Should she be named in the playing squad, then Rebeca Vandort would also fancy her chances, having contributed some handy knocks earlier against Asian sides.
But where the frontal bowling attack is concerned, Sri Lankans, who would be up against the probing pace and nagging accuracy of India’s pace duo- Shikha Pandey and Jhulan Goswami- would look up to Sripali Weerakkody, the right-armer with 56 ODI wickets against her name. What will also prove as an important cog in Lankan bowling wheel would be the economic contributions that would be expected from the likes of Gunaratne.
Back to India, for the likes of Jemimah, who’ll be travelling on her maiden Lankan tour and, Mansi Joshi, back after a year’s hiatus due to her injury, would be looking to make big breakthroughs. Surely, the team would not only desire to rely on the big names with the bat alone. One of the high-profile inclusions for India women’s team, giving a visible edge in the experience-exuberance match is that of Punam Raut.
In totality, both sides would love to make giant strides from this series as their eventual focus would be to build momentum for arguably, the most exciting tournament that all are eyeing, at this point in time. What else but the Women’s World T20?