It’s do or die for India

15-07-2017
DH

Hanging on to fourth spot on the points table, a loss on Saturday will shatter India’s semifinal hopes.

After starting the tournament on a promising note with four wins on the trot, India slumped to their second straight loss on Wednesday.

At Bristol, they were defeated by a dominant Australia by eight wickets, despite a fighting century from Poonam Raut, and a record breaking 69 from captain Mithali Raj.

Whoever wins on Saturday will secure the last remaining semifinal spot with hosts England, South Africa and defending champions Australia already qualifying for the last four.

The Indians only have themselves to blame for their current situation as they batted unexpectedly slow on a track that was offering a bit of turn and grip.

After the early dismissal of Smriti Mandhana, Mithali and Poonam started slowly, allowing the Australian spinners to dictate terms.

In trying to stabilise the innings after an early wicket, Mithali, who became the highest ODI run-scorer during that knock and the first woman to score more than 6,000 ODI runs, played uncharacteristically slow, using up 54 balls for her first 20 runs, and finished on a 114-ball 69.

Opener Smriti’s bat surprisingly became quite after impressive knocks in the first two games and India would be hoping for the left-hander to deliver the goods.

India would expect the likes of Smriti, Poonam and Harmanpreet Kaur, besides Deepti Sharma and Mithali to fire in unison against the dangerous New Zealand.

On the bowling front, pace spearhead Jhulan Goswami has looked a pale shadow of herself in the tournament so far and the Indians would be relying on their spinners — Deepti, Ekta Bisht, Harmanpreet and Poonam Yadav to take the responsibility on their shoulders.

Fielding too has been a problem area for India throughout the tournament. In the first three games alone, the Indian eves dropped eight catches. In the game against South Africa, they allowed at least 10 runs on the field through misfields while against Australia, there were some very basic erros.

Just like India, New Zealand too are facing a must-win situation and are currently lying at the fifth spot in the standings with seven points from eight games. New Zealand’s 75-run loss to England in their last match has put them in a precarious position.

If New Zealand win and Australia beat South Africa by a big margin, they could also move to the third spot.

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