The ICC Women’s World Cup 2022 has already kicked off. Three matches have been held so far across Friday and Saturday. West Indies Women sealed a superb three-run win over hosts New Zealand in the opener. South Africa Women and Australia Women registered sound wins over Bangladesh and England, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Indian women’s cricket team, which reached the final of the previous edition, will start its journey against Pakistan Women on March 6. India are set to play seven matches in the group stage and will aim to finish strongly to advance in the next round.
The Mithali Raj-led side has several top-notch players who can step up and deliver the goods for Team India. Here we look at seven such players who can set the stage on fire.
Smriti Mandhana: The southpaw will be aiming to make her presence felt for India Women, opening the batting alongside Shafali Verma. The promising batter has the knack of chipping in with consistent scores. She can lay the foundation. Mandhana has racked up 2,461 runs in ODIs from 64 matches at 41.71. She has four centuries and 20 fifties. In the 2017 World Cup, she scored 232 runs and will want to better the feat by scoring heavily.
Shafali Verma: India Women’s dynamite Shafali can take the game by storm with her aggressive nature upfront. The fearless cricketer from Haryana has already shown her mettle in white-ball cricket. She has a lot to achieve and the credentials shown promise aplenty. Shafali In 11 ODIs, she has 260 runs at 23.63. She has registered two fifties with the best score of 56. Shafali needs consistency under her belt to have a sound tournament.
Mithali Raj: Indian skipper Mithali is the highest run-scorer in Women’s ODI matches. She has racked up a total of 7,623 runs at 51.85. Mithali has hammered 62 fifties and seven centuries to date. The middle-order batter has a realistic chance of becoming the first woman to aggregate 8,000 runs in ODIs. Mithali is the fifth-highest scorer in the Women’s World Cup and has scored 1,139 runs in the tournament across editions 54.23. She was the top scorer for India in 2017.
Richa Ghosh: The Bengal teenager has played seven ODI matches to date and impressed largely in the recently concluded series versus New Zealand. Richa gives India the X-Factor in the middle-order. She can play all the shots, and the form shown versus NZ Women will help her be confident. Richa has scored 222 runs at 44.40. She has smashed two fifties with the best score of 65.
Deepti Sharma: The senior all-rounder has been a potent force for India Women over the years. She is an able bowler and has 79 scalps at 30.01. The 24-year-old has also smashed 1,720 runs at 36.59. She is a powerhouse and brings stability to the side. Her dual credentials will be of massive help to the Indian team. Deepti will need to elevate her game and be the match-winner.
Jhulan Goswami: A veteran of 245 wickets, Jhulan will be eager to sign out in a high. She has an average of 21.74 in ODIs. Jhulan is five wickets shy of becoming the first bowler with 250-plus wickets in Women’s ODIs. Goswami is the joint-third highest wicket-taker in the Women’s World Cup. She has claimed 36 scalps at an average of 20.02. Goswami needs four more wickets to become the top wicket-taker in WWC. An experienced customer like Jhulan can make all the difference.
Poonam Yadav: The 30-year-old seasoned spinner has 79 ODI scalps at an average of 25.15. She has four four-wicket hauls with the best of 4/13. A champion performer in T20Is, Poonam leads the spin show for Team India. Her approach in the middle overs will be highly crucial. Poonam played three ODIs versus NZ Women recently and claimed three scalps. She needs to pitch the ball in the right areas and keep the batters in check.