An under-prepared Indian women’s team would look to begin its World Twenty20 campaign on a positive note when it takes on Sri Lanka in a Group ‘B’ league match in Sylhet on Monday.
Indian women have not played against top oppositions in recent times and their performance has been a mixed one in the warm-up games. They lost to New Zealand by 17 runs before beating Ireland by 26 runs.
Interestingly, India had lost to Sri Lanka 1-2 in the T20 International series at home earlier this year and the Mithali Raj-led team would look to avenge that defeat.
India has made an important change to its batting line-up for the tournament. Its best batsman and captain Raj will open the innings instead of coming in at her usual No. 3 position. She has been in fine touch in the warm-up games, making 42 in the win over Ireland and 53 against New Zealand.
The strategy will require Poonam Raut to move down to steer the middle-order in the company of vice captain Harmanpreet Kaur. Veteran seamer Jhulan Goswami, who has also shown superb form in the warm-ups, will lead the attack.
Along with Goswami’s experience, India has got a battery of spinners in Sravanthi Naidu, Poonam Yadav, Gouher Sultana and Archana Das, giving Raj a welcome conundrum of what combination to pick in helpful conditions.
Raj, Raut and Kaur make for plenty of class through the line-up, with Goswami available to slog a few down the order.
Besides the lack of matches against top opposition, the team’s weakness has been overdependence on Raj and Goswami.
India lost in the semifinals in both the 2009 and 2010 editions, against New Zealand and Australia, respectively.
It had a disappointing 2012 edition, where it lost all three group games.