India will face a virtual quarterfinal against New Zealand at Derby on Saturday in the 27th match of 2017 Women’s World Cup. India are placed fourth with 8 points, while New Zealand are placed fifth with seven points from six games each. The team that wins the India vs New Zealand clash will book the last semi-final spot. Australia, England and South Africa have already qualified for the semis. Cricwizz takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams ahead of India vs New Zealand clash.
Batting: India began well, won four matches on the trot on the back of their batting prowess. But they have hit a low, losing the last two games against South Africa and Australia. Their batting has let them down in the last two games. But batting continues to be India’s strong point. They have to regroup and focus and do the basic things right to bat New Zealand out of the tournament.
In-form batsmen: Both the openers – Smriti Mandhana and Punam Raut – have been among runs. Raut scored a ton in a losing cause against Australia. But Mandhana who began well with a fifty and a ton in the first two games have hit a rough patch. India need a good show from her to move into semis. Other batswomen such as Deepti Sharma too have been among runs.
Mithali Raj’s performance: She has been quite consistent and recently became the leading run-getter in ODIs during her knock of 69 against Australia. But her job is not done yet. She has to lead from the front against the competitive New Zealand to book a berth in semis. Otherwise, it will be a sweet-bitter experience for Raj and Co. who began so well in the tournament, but still could not make it to the semis.
Bowling combos: India have their bowling sorted out. But it came a cropper in the last two games. They have few reliable spinners in Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bisht, Deepti Sharma and an experienced pacer in Jhulan Goswami. Now, it’s the time for the bowlers to stand up and be counted.
Crumbling against tough opposition: India had it easy in the first half of the tournament, registering easy wins against weaker team such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka and West Indies. But against tough opponents such as Australia and Sri Lanka, they have crumbled under pressure. New Zealand too are a strong bunch of players. Unless Raj and Co. do something exceptional, they will leave England shores on a sour note.
New Zealand strengths:
Competitiveness: They compete hard and fair and would give tough challenge to India. They have a consistent batswoman in skipper Suzie Bates who is also likely to open the innings. Most of the other NZ batswomen have been among the runs. They will look to post up a big total and then restrict India. They also have the bowling resources to do so with Huddleston boasting of a five-wicket haul in the tournament.
A consistent batswoman in Suzie Bates: Bates has scores of 106*, 51, 41*, 44 in the four innings. She has held the innings together with her responsible batting. She is also flexible dropping herself to the middle-order to stabilise the innings in case of a collapse.
Bowling prowess: NZ medium pacers have exploited the conditions well with Holly Huddleston destroying Sri Lanka with 5/35, her third such haul in less than 30 ODIs. Other bowlers such as Tahuhu, Kasperek too have been among the wickets.
Not been convincing enough: Kiwis have posted wins against Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies, who are in the bottom of the points table. They have lost to England and Australia, the top teams in the tournament. India too are in the same boat. Hence, it will be match of equals.
Prediction: India began well, but have hit a rough patch after posting four consecutive wins. But still they have stronger players compared to New Zealand. But the Kiwis are a competitive team and can raise their level of game to edge past India. It will be a folly to take Kiwis lightly. Raj and Co, however, are favourite in this India vs New Zealand clash.
Possible winner: India