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Women’s World Cup: Inconsistent India eye crucial win against consistent Australia

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 It’s fair to say that India’s campaign in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup hasn’t gone as per their plan. In four matches, they have won two and lost the same number of games.

In all four matches, their batting has oscillated between very high and low extremes. Amidst their inconsistent campaign, India now square off against six-time World Cup winners, Australia, who are on a consistent, undefeated run in the tournament, at Eden Park on Saturday.

It will also be the first time the two teams will meet in a 50-over World Cup match since the semifinal of the 2017 edition at Derby, where Harmanpreet Kaur’s whirlwind 171 served as the knockout punch for Australia.

A win against Australia would set India’s campaign on track to reach the semifinals as they face Bangladesh and South Africa afterwards. In the run-up to the World Cup, India’s batting looked stronger than their bowling in the bilateral series against New Zealand.

But in the mega event, the tables have turned with bowling looking strong while the batting has emerged with weak links.

For now, the Mithali Raj-led side has to ensure that the up-and-down batting performances and losing wickets in a heap has to be avoided against an Australia bowling attack which has bowled out New Zealand and West Indies for 128 and 131 respectively in its last two matches.

Collapses of 114/6, 95/5, 78/3 and 86/7 convey that in both victory and defeat, India have been hampered by this nagging issue, acknowledged by Smriti Mandhana in her pre-match briefing.

Left-handed Mandhana, India’s leading run-getter so far in the tournament with 216 runs, thinks stitching partnerships will be a key in solving the collapse problem.

“Definitely, we have been losing wickets back-to-back. It’s something that we, as a batting unit, want to address it. 50-overs is all about good partnerships. So, we definitely want to work on it.”

“As set batters, it is more responsibility on that batter to take the game forward from that time when you are able to time the ball well. That’s something I will be really conscious about that we don’t have to lose wickets back-to-back and develop a partnership from there because one or two good partnerships will be able to post a good total which we can defend.”

If India are able to avoid the wobble in top and middle order, then they will need runs collectively from the batting order. Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur have been among the runs but the same can’t be said of Mithali Raj and Deepti Sharma.

Mithali moved up to three from four while Deepti took her captain’s place but the duo haven’t got the runs in four matches. It remains to be seen if an out-of-form Shafali Verma will come in or India will stick with left-handed Yastika Bhatia.

On the other hand, Australia have got very little to worry about. Rachael Haynes is in brilliant form, leading the run-scoring charts with 277 runs. Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning will be looking to be more consistent while Ellyse Perry, Ashleigh Gardner, Tahlia McGrath and Beth Mooney have clicked well.

In terms of bowling, Gardner, McGrath, Perry along with Alana King, Amanda-Jade Wellington and Megan Schutt have been spot-on with their lines and lengths.

Head coach Matthew Mott is aware of what India can bring to the table, having seen them almost win the ODI series at Mackay last year.

“It’s a good time to play India. I see them as an incredibly dangerous side. So, we are rolling some confidence at the moment. But as we always say, it’s this game in isolation and everything that we’re talking about the moments about how we can combat India. I think they’ve got one of the best new-ball bowling attacks in the world. And we found that out last summer.”

For both teams, there will be a sense of walking into the unknown as Eden Park will host its first match in the tournament. With small straight and long square boundaries apart from drop-in pitch and difficulty in catches taken under lights, Eden Park presents a nice challenge for Australia and India meeting for the 13th time in Women’s World Cups.

India will be hoping that they can make Jhulan Goswami’s 200th ODI outing memorable by clicking as a batting unit and halting the winning Australian juggernaut.

Squads

Australia: Meg Lanning (captain), Rachael Haynes (vice-captain), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy (wicket-keeper), Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland and Amanda-Jade Wellington.

India: Mithali Raj (captain), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh (wicket-keeper), Sneh Rana, Jhulan Goswami, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh Thakur, Taniya Bhatia (wicket-keeper), Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Poonam Yadav.

International

Bangladesh might have succumbed to pressure v India; not taking fake fielding issue any further: Sriram

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Bangladesh coach Sridharan Sriram has conceded his team might have succumbed to pressure in the thrilling five-run loss to India in their Super 12 Group 2 match of the ICC T20 World Cup, and has also said he has no intention of taking the potential fake fielding incident involving Virat Kohli during the match any further.

Bangladesh were cruising along at 66 without loss in seven overs, with Litton Das coming out all guns blazing and snatching the advantage of making 184/6 from India through a breath-taking 59 not out off 26 balls — laced with seven fours and three sixes at a strike rate of 226.9 — when rain put a halt to his pyrotechnics.

Bangladesh’s target was revised from 185 in 20 overs to 151 in 16 overs. They needed 85 more runs in nine overs to win the match, with all wickets in hand. India’s bowling attack, which took a beating in the power-play, got the much-needed respite thanks to the rain break and they went on to win the match by five runs (D/L method).

Sriram agreed the rain delay and the revised target brought the pressure on his side and it crumbled.

“Well, it was quite frantic for that brief (last) 10-12 minutes (of the match), which is understandable. I think the boys, nine runs an over or 9.75 runs an over, definitely I think the pressure got to them a little bit. Yeah, it was a little bit of a frantic 15-20 minutes if I can put it, yes,” said Sriram, the former Australia spin-bowling coach.

Bangladesh are scheduled to play their last Super 12 game against Pakistan on Sunday with a win not guaranteeing them a place in the last four, but the results of the remaining two Group 2 games — South Africa vs Netherlands and India vs Zimbabwe — could facilitate their semifinal entry.

Much heat has been generated over on-field umpires missing a potential fake fielding incident involving Kohli, which could have earned Bangladesh five runs in penalties and a victory against India, but Sriram said he is not here “to offer any excuses” for the defeat.

Wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan accused Kohli of fake fielding during the match, claiming that the umpires missed the incident and could have resulted in the opposition getting crucial five runs as penalty. The incident that Hasan talked about going unnoticed took place in the seventh over of Bangladesh’s chase when Kohli feigned a throw while standing at point, as if he was relaying a throw coming from Arshdeep Singh from the deep off the bowling of Axar Patel.

Neither the on-field umpires, Marais Erasmus and Chris Brown, spotted it, nor did the two Bangladeshi batters, openers Litton Das and Najmul Hossain Shanto, out in the middle, pointed it out.

Law 41.5, pertaining to unfair play, prohibits the “deliberate distraction, deception or obstruction of (the) batter”, and if an incident is deemed to be a breach, the umpire can declare that particular delivery as dead ball, and award the batting side five runs. But Hasan didn’t mention if either of Das or Shanto spoke to him or to the team about distraction or deception from Kohli pretending to throw the ball to the keeper.

Shedding light on the controversy, Sriram said, “No, we are not here to offer any excuses. I did speak to the fourth umpire as soon as it happened, but I think it was the on-field umpire’s call, and that’s what we were told, but we’re not here to offer any excuses.”

Sriram said the focus now is to beat Pakistan and wait for the results of other matches to go in his team’s favour.

“I’ve been very clear in all my press conferences. We’re just taking it one game at a time, plan for one opposition at a time. Every game we want to go, we obviously want to win it, but we’re aware of what challenges Pakistan present. We played them in New Zealand just recently (in the Tri-series), and we have high respect for that team, so we’re going to turn up and be at our best on that day.”

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Adit, Nihaal lead a strong showing in third leg of US Kids Golf India; Five boys, two girls complete hat-trick of wins

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Adit Veeramachaneni of Bengaluru landed three eagles in a superb winning effort of 7-under 65 in the third leg of the US Kids Golf India at the links-style Golden Greens.

Adit, winner of the first two legs of the India series, completed a treble in the U-9 category.

Veeramachaneni was one of the five players in the Boys section to complete a hat-trick of wins. Two other players in the Girls section also completed a similar feat of three wins in three starts.

Among the outstanding performances in the third leg was Nihaal Cheema in the Boys Under-6. He carded an incredible six birdies in his nine-hole competition for a 6-under 30 score.

Divjot Singh playing in Boys U-7 Category gave the US Kids Golf India Series a milestone moment by holing his second shot at the 275-yard Par-5 fifth hole for the Tour’s first-ever albatross in India. Divjot’s second shot from just over 100 yards disappeared into the hole sparking off a big celebration.

Divjot also avenged the defeat he had suffered earlier at the hands of Kabir Goyal, who finished second this time.

The excellent scores were indicative of the talent on view, as six winners and one second placed player shot under par scores and another two winners had even par rounds. It meant that the players with under par scores will have a chance to qualify for the US Kids Golf’s World Championships in the US and the European events.

The six winners shooting under par at the Golden Greens included Nihaal Cheema (Boys U-6), Divjot Gupta (Boys U-7), Adit Veeramachaneni (Boys U-9) and Armin Paul Singh (Boys U-12) among boys and Amaira Gulati (Girls U-8) and Shambhavi Chaturvedi (Girls 11-12). Arnav Kumar (Boys U-9), runner-up in U-9, also shot 1-under.

The players completing a treble were: Nihaal Cheema (Boys U-6), Jot Sarup Singh (Boys U-8), Adit Veeramachaneni (Boys U-9), Chaitanya Pandey (Boys U-11) and Manyaveer Bhadoo (Boys 15-18).

Among the girls, Lucknow’s Amaira Gulati (U-8) and Gurgaon’s Mahreen Bhatia (Girls 13-14) made it three in a row.

Rajesh Srivastava, President of the US Kids Golf India, said, “It was a sensational day. Adit (Veeramachaneni) from Bengaluru and Nihaal Cheema carded brilliant scores of 7-under and 6-under. There was also the first-ever albatross in US Kids Golf India when Divjot Singh holed his second shot on the Par-5 in the U-7 category. The birdies and eagles also signalled the rising standards as the youngsters aim for berths at the World and European Championships, ahead of the Indian Championship later this month.”

Amit Dube, the Tournament Director, a former pro and now a coach, added, “The standard shows that these youngsters are ready for big events and American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) events. We look forward to a high level of play and more youngsters coming out in future.”

Fifty players teed up across the various age categories as they got ready for the Indian Championship, a three-day international event to be held from November 23-25, 2022. The Indian Championship, scheduled at the Classic Golf and Country Club, will have World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) points.

Players shooting 72 and below in at least two Local Tour events will earn Level 11 status and will earn AJGA Performance Star.

The US Kids local Tour is the only tournament giving opportunity to Players to earn AJGA Stars. The youngsters are looking to accumulate Priority Level status for the US Kids Europe and World Championships and the AJGA stars, which helps them get into numerous international events.

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West Indies U19 women’s team to tour India ahead of U19 T20 World Cup 2023

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Ashmini Munisar has been named skipper, while Trishan Holder will be her deputy in the 15-member West Indies women’s U-19 squad for the T20 tour of India beginning in Visakhapatnam on November 13.

The tour will feature matches against India-A Women U19, India-B Women U19 and Sri Lanka Women U19 at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy International Stadium in Visakhapatnam. West Indies will then travel to Mumbai where they will play against New Zealand Women U19 at the DY Patil Stadium.

The team will be under the guidance of head coach Steve Liburd. Munisar is an allrounder who led the team when West Indies U19 played against USA Women’s U19 in Fort Lauderdale in August. Vice-captain Holder is a top-order batter who was a member of the Barbados team at the Commonwealth Games playing matches against Pakistan, Australia and India.

The players for the T20 matches were selected after trial matches in Trinidad.

“As part of the preparation for the tour the squad was involved in some practice matches during a seven-day training camp in Trinidad. The final team selected contained some of the players who participated in the series in the USA and there are some new players who the panel would like to have a look at before a final team is selected for the World Cup,” said lead selector, Ann Browne-John.

“The composition of the team is quite balanced with some strong batters and a good mix of spin and medium pacers. It will be their first experience against top international teams and these tour matches will give a better indication of where the team is at the moment,” she added.

This series in the sub-continent will form a crucial part of the team’s preparations for the inaugural ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup 2023. The global event will feature 41 matches be played from January 14-29 in South Africa.

The official warm-up matches will be from January 9-11. The 16 participating teams will play in four groups in the preliminary round. West Indies have been drawn in Group C alongside New Zealand, Ireland and Indonesia.

Full squad: Ashmini Munisar (captain), Trishan Holder, Asabi Callendar, Kenika Cassar, Jahzara Claxton, Naijanni Cumberbatch, Jannillea Glasgow, Realeanna Grimmond, Zaida James, Djenaba Joseph, KDJazz Mitchell, Shalini Samaroo, Shunelle Sawh, Lena Scott, Kate Wilmott.

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