Indian eves aim to break CWC final jinx
The Indian women's team will take on three-time world champions England on the opening day of the 11th edition of the ICC Women's World Cup at Derby on Saturday.
With a thumping 109-run victory against Sri Lanka in their warm-up match, the Mithali Raj-led Indian team is filled with confidence as they gear up to battle it out in the single round-robin format where every team will play each other once.
The tournament will conclude on July 23 at the iconic Lord's Stadium in London.
Historically, the English have won six matches in the overall nine encounters between the two teams at the World Cup since India made their debut at the second edition in 1978. Interestingly, the Indian girls finally won in the third encounter at the 1982 World Cup in New Zealand.
The climate of the host nation is expected to suit India's veteran speedster Jhulan Goswami who will be playing her fourth World Cup. The Bengal pacer is also the highest wicket taker in the world in the limited overs formats.
Jhulan is ably supported by left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht who is currently ranked at the sixth position in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings.
The Indian batting is spearheaded by skipper Mithali. Appearing in her fifth World Cup, Mithali averages an astonishing 60 in the 22 outings thus far. She posted her solitary World Cup century at the previous edition in 2013 when she scored an unbeaten 103 against Pakistan.
Harmanpreet, playing in her third World Cup, is a toast of world cricket with her swashbuckling style and part-time off-spin.
She has the distinction of notching up 107 runs against England in 2013 -- the highest score by an Indian in a World Cup -- with an astonishing strike rate of 98. The English bowlers will remember her eight boundaries and two towering sixes on a lazy Sunday afternoon at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.
The hosts on the other hand, have bagged the title thrice. Their team has a formidable look with the return of wicket keeper and batter Sarah Taylor after a brief hiatus.
With all eyes on the team playing at their home-ground, England captain Heather Knight will be chasing runs and dreams of millions of fans for their fourth World Cup title.
Katherine Brunt is another additional pacing on the hosts' radar. The hosts have already secured seven wickets against New Zealand in warm-up matches, underlining their tag of title contenders.
In the past 44 years of the cricket World Cup, Australia are the undisputed leaders having won six of the 10 tournaments.
They are followed by the English girls with three titles and the Kiwis with a solitary home World Cup win in 2000. Australia have also finished runners-up thrice.
India were more ambivalent when the women's team secured the runners-up position at the 2005 World Cup, after losing a close battle against Australia.
Well, the enthusiasm level may swing down on the performance graph post that, but the static streak at the World Cup is supported by the fact that the Indian team crashed out of the semi-finals an astonishing seven times.
Looking at the pre-cricket era and counting on the women's World Cup, England have hosted the World Cup twice and won two -- in the year 1973 and 1993.
How could Australia miss this chance, and here we are with their host-manship and winning flag flying up in the year 1988 where the Australian team hosted as well as bagged the glittering trophy.
In the year 2000, New Zealand emulated their trans-Tasmanian rivals and won the World Cup at their home ground.
India were served the opportunity in the years 1978, 1997 and 2013. They secured the fourth position in 1978, made it to the semi-finals in 1997 and rolled down to the seventh spot in 2013.
Dotted an impressive figure of 1,501 runs, Debbie Hockley, the first woman to be recently elected as the president of New Zealand Cricket, has scored the most number of runs in the history of the women's World Cup.
The most number of runs have been scored by Australia's Belinda Clark with a record chase of 229 against Denmark in 1997.
The 'most wicket taker' title has been bagged by 'lefty' and Australia's dual international Lyn Fullston with a record of 39 wickets from the year 1982 to 1988. - IANS