India captain Harmanpreet Kaur will be aiming to overcome her prolonged slump in form and provide a much-needed boost to the struggling batting line-up during the three-match T20I series against England that begins in Northampton on Friday.
England leads the multi-format series 6-4 after a drawn Test and a 2-1 win in ODIs. Barring Mithali Raj’s remarkable consistency, the Indian batting was a disappointment in the ODIs and it is something that the team would want to correct in the three T20s.
India’s top two performers in ODIs – Mithali and Jhulan Goswami – will be seeing the action from the sidelines.
Harmanpreet, who has not scored a fifty in the shortest format since November, 2018, will be expected to take responsibility with the bat.
Both the openers – Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana – are in good touch but the team is expecting more consistency from them, especially from the vice-captain. The standout performer of the tour – Sneh Rana – is set to play her first T20 since February, 2016.
Likely game for Richa Ghosh
Richa Ghosh, another 17-year-old in the team alongside Shafali, is also likely to feature in the playing eleven having done well in the home series against South Africa. The Indian batters consumed too many dot balls in ODIs and it is something they can’t afford to do in the shortest format.
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“Since the ODIs, the focus in the nets has been on strike rotation, variations of pace bowlers, and playing situations. The bowling and fielding showed big improvement but the batters need to step up. Hopefully, they will,” a BCCI official told PTI.
India is yet to see the pitch as it has been training in Leicester but irrespective of the conditions, it will need to post at least 150 to challenge England.
Besides Deepti Sharma and Rana, India has a third all-rounder option in pacer Simaran Dil Bahadur, who made her debut against South Africa.
England, on the other hand, has brought back opener Danni Wyatt for the T20s following her good run in domestic cricket. She is set to open alongside Tammy Beaumont in the absence of Lauren Winfield-Hill. Medium-pacer Kate Cross, who took a five-wicket haul during the ODIs, is not part of the T20 squad.
“We’ve played some good cricket across both the Test and the ODIs and we’ve named a strong squad for the T20I series. It’s 6-4 in the multi-format series and it’s a series we’re pushing hard to win. We probably weren’t quite at our best in the third ODI so I’d like us to hit the ground running in the first T20I and be ruthless,” said England head coach Lisa Keightley.
- India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Richa Ghosh, Harleen Deol, Sneh Rana, Taniya Bhatia, Indrani Roy, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Arundhati Reddy, Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bisht, Radha Yadav, Simaran Dil Bahadur.
- England: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Freya Davies, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Sarah Glenn, Amy Jones, Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Mady Villiers, Fran Wilson, Danni Wyatt.
- Match starts 11 PM (IST).