|Event:||India Women in England 2008|
DateLine: 29th August 2008
Claire Taylor and Mitahli Raj on the verge of entering the exclusive 100-ODI club
India’s women cricketers launch their preparations for next year’s ICC Women’s World Cup 2009 in Australia when they go head to head against an in-form England side in the five-match ODI series in Bath, England from Saturday.
England is unbeaten this season having defeated the West Indies 1-0 in a two-match ODI series and South Africa 4-0 in a five-match ODI series. In contrast, India ’s last outing was in April and May this year in Sri Lanka where it won its fourth successive Asia Cup title.
The series becomes even more significant considering the fact that the two teams, along with Sri Lanka and Pakistan, are in Group B of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2009 to be staged in Sydney from 7 to 22 March. Group A is made up of defending champion Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and South Africa.
Second seed India and fourth seed England are favourites to go through to the Super Six from Group B along with either Sri Lanka or Pakistan. The top two teams from the Super Six stage will qualify for the final while the remaining four teams will go into the play-offs.
Besides England and India , the other six participants from the ICC Women’s World Cup 2009 will also figure in the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 which will be staged alongside the men’s tournament in England next June.
While both the teams will be keeping an eye on their preparations for next year’s tournament, Charlotte Edwards’ girls will be aiming to maintain their superiority over Mithali Raj’s side.
England has won five of the last seven ODIs against India , including a 4-0 win the last time these two sides met in an ODI series on English soil. India twice defeated England in the preliminary round matches of a quadrangular series in 2007 in Chennai before England won the third/fourth-place play-off.
Fast bowler Isa Guha, who has taken 10 wickets in four ODIs this season, says every match England plays in a lead up to the ICC Women’s World Cup will help it gain confidence as it tries to finalise its best side ahead of the competition.
“We really believe as a team now that we can go out to the World Cup and win it,” said England ’s Guha.
“We are taking it every step at a time, taking each game as it comes. We just want to make sure we win every game of cricket. It’s about preparation for the World Cup and obviously we want to keep putting in good performances.
“With the coach and captain looking at different combinations of players in the side, your place in the side is never really guaranteed. Every player is hungry for success,” said the 23-year-old who has played seven Tests, 54 ODIs and seven Twenty20 Internationals.
Guha, who took 5-14 against the West Indies earlier this season, is also excited at the challenge of taking on a Mithali Raj-inspired India . “I am really looking forward to the upcoming series. I am interested to see how far India has come since we last played – we have certainly moved on – and they are an equally strong side,” said Guha, who made her debut at the age of 17.
“Mithali is a very competitive cricketer. She leads from the front and she is an excellent timer of the ball. We want to bowl consistently to her and make sure she doesn’t get off to a good start,” said Guha.
England captain Edwards says India will be tough opposition: “ India will be tough opposition this summer and we know we have to be at the top of our game to beat them.
“It has some world-class players like Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami and it will be a good challenge for us. We've got a strong squad, a great blend of youth and experience and we can't wait for this series to get started - it should be a really good series with some excellent cricket.”
Mithali, who is India’s one of the most celebrated women cricketers, will become the 12th female cricketer and second Indian after Anjum Chopra (105) to have played 100 or more ODIs, when she leads the team in the second ODI.
And the Indian skipper is very excited about the challenge of taking on a confident England team.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge, especially as England is in form, but we are very optimistic and confident about our success,” said Raj.
“We’re not targeting any specific England players – as a team they seem to have done very well recently.
“We will be looking to get the top order out early on and get the batters out who have been getting lots of runs recently and put some pressure on the other players.”
Claire Taylor, who has played 97 matches for her country, will also join the exclusive 100-ODI club during the series, if she can recover from illness. She will be the fourth Englishwoman after Charlotte Edwards, Jane Smit and her namesake Clare Taylor to play in 100 or more ODIs.
England (from) – Charlotte Edwards (captain), Caroline Atkins, Holly Colvin, Lynsey Askew, Katherine Brunt, Lydia Greenway, Isa Guha, Jenny Gunn, Beth Morgan, Laura Marsh, Ebony-Jewel Rainford-Brent, Nicki Shaw, Anya Shrubsole, Claire Taylor, Sarah Taylor (wicketkeeper)
India (from) – Mithali Raj (captain), Jhulan Goswami, Neetu David, Karu Jain, Hemlata Kala, Deviika Palshikar, Sulakshana Naik, Snehal Pradhan, Seema Pujare, Asha Rawat, Priyanka Roy, Amita Sharma, Jaya Sharma, Gouher Sultana, Nirajana Nagarajan.
30 August: First ODI, Bath Cricket Club, Bath
1 September: Second ODI, Taunton 4 September: Third ODI, Taunton
5 September: Twenty20 International, Taunton
7 September: Fourth ODI, Arundel Castle, Arundel
9 September: Fifth ODI, Hove
Listen to the full interview with England ’s Isa Guha at: http://icc-cricket.yahoo.com/wwc-2009/audio.html
More details on ICC Women’s World Cup 2009 can be found at: