India women hope to ride success wave

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Bengaluru, June 30 (IANS) Having won the opener convincingly, the Indian women’s cricket team will be looking to sustain the momentum when they take on New Zealand in the second game of the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series here on Wednesday.

The 17-run win on Sunday took India to seventh position, just ahead of the Black Caps in the ICC Women’s Championship which is designed to identify the four automatic qualifiers for the 2017 World Cup.

With only the results of the first three games to be counted, the Mithali Raj-led India would be keen to win the next two outings which will boost them to fourth spot in the championship.

Sunday’s game exposed New Zealand’s rather brittle middle-order as the visitors collapsed to 125, chasing India’s 142. Much the same could be said of the hosts who were rescued by a half-century by Jhulan Goswami after being 88/7.

The Kiwi batters appeared suspect against quality spin bowling while seam movement troubled their Indian counterparts who batted first on winning the toss. With the Wednesday’s game to be played at the same venue, the conditions will be no different and India will be fancying their chances of going 2-0 up.

From an individual perspective, Mithali, undoubtedly the best and most prolific batter in the Indian team, is on the verge of reaching a few milestones. First up, she is just nine runs shy of scoring 2,000 runs on home soil, a feat achieved only by one other batter, England’s Charlotte Marie Edwards.

Mithali, who has struck five centuries in 154 ODIs, needs another 95 to join Edwards (5,812) in the exclusive 5,000-run club, but a knock of 81 will see the 32-year-old becoming only the third captain after Australia’s Belinda Clark (4,150) and Edwards (3,343) to score 2,500 runs.

Mithali will have to weigh in with a big score on Wednesday as Suzie Bates’ New Zealanders have the potential to upstage the hosts. New Zealand, who have four points, can still hope to qualify for the World Cup if they win the remaining two games, including the one on Wednesday, by fair margins.

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