ICC Women’s World T20 2018: Is the India Vs New Zealand game a virtual quarter-final?
The women in blue kick off their T20 World Cup against New Zealand on 9 November. It may seem very odd to say this for the first match in a tournament. But in reality, this particular encounter feels like a virtual quarterfinal match, with the winner’s chance of making it into the semi-final becoming much brighter.
This is because India is in group B with Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Ireland. Though cricket is a game of uncertainty, it can be said with some amount of certainty that the two teams to qualify from this group for the semi-final stage have to be from among Australia, India and New Zealand.
Three-time champion Australia is widely tipped to top the group, and it may all boil down to the match between India and New Zealand to grab the second spot from this group. Unfortunately for India and New Zealand, they are set to clash against each other in the very first match of the tournament.
Of course, it is not the end of the world for the team that goes down in the clash. But they will then have the unenviable task of getting it past Australia to qualify for the semi-final.
In any case, this is an extremely crucial match for both the teams. Though on paper, New Zealand may seem to have a slight edge, this Indian team does not care much about the opposition’s reputation.
India should play a fearless, yet tactical game. They need to focus on their strengths and try to capitalize on New Zealand’s vulnerabilities. In fact, the warm-up game against England should give them enough confidence in which their bowlers did a great job.
Against New Zealand, India should try to bowl wicket to wicket, and use their spinners wisely. Too much focus on New Zealand’s star batswoman Suzie Bates may be counter-productive.
She may be their best batswoman, possibly the best in this tournament, but they have some other capable batswomen such as Sophie Devine and their new captain, Amy Ella Satterthwaite. The Indian bowling led by its spinners, Deepti Sharma and Poonam Yadav, needs to be disciplined.
Right now, India probably has the best batting line up in world cricket. Along with the veteran Mithali Raj, they have two terrific shot-makers in their captain Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana.
Captain Kaur, especially is in terrific form, as was seen in the warm-up game against England. Moreover, the young Jemimah Rodrigues and the experienced Veda Krishnamurthy are both explosive batswomen and have the capability to tear apart any attack.
With so much batting talent in hand, Harmanpreet could even consider promoting Rodrigues or Krishnamurthy to open the batting, taking the opposition by surprise. The women in blue have the resources to begin their campaign on a winning note.