In less than five months, the Indian women's cricket team will embark on their journey to the southern hemisphere with an aim to get a step further and win the elusive ODI world title. Despite faltering in the summit clash at the Home of Cricket against England in 2017, the Indian team produced consistent performances on their road to the final and created a revolution back home for young girls to take up the sport.
"We want to win the World Cup because it would be a revolution kind of a thing for Indian women's cricket. “It would give a big impetus for young girls to take up the sport," said Mithali Raj in a pre-departure press conference before the 2017 World Cup.
While the Indian team did not win the trophy, their heroics in the tournament ensured young girls took up the sport and followed their dream. Though they have not been a dominant force, the Women in Blue have been strong competitors on their tours and will be one of the teams to watch out for in the 2022 ODI World Cup in New Zealand.
With a lack of international series post their tour Down Under, the majority of the Indian players competed in the domestic One-Day tournament that commenced from October 30. Barring the eight players plying their trade in the ongoing Women's Big Bash League (WBBL), most of the players joined their domestic sides for the competition.
In over 15 days of highly-competitive cricket across India, with 37 teams vying for the coveted trophy, only 11 teams have managed to seal their place in the knockouts stages to be held in Bengaluru.
With relentless showers in the last couple of days, rain is expected to play a significant role in the three pre-quarterfinals starting Saturday (November 13). Delhi up against Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha taking on Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab locking horns against Goa in the three games at the Alur Cricket Stadium and the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Quarterfinals will be held on November 15 and November 16, with the winners progressing in the semi-finals on November 18. The month-long tournament will conclude with the summit clash on November 20 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
The defending champions
With a plethora of stars in the squad, Railways have been the most dominant side in the domestic circuit. The defending champions will be one of the firm favourites to clinch their 13th title.
After topping Elite Group B, the team will compete against the winners of pre-quarterfinal 2 in the quarterfinals on Monday at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Despite being the favourites, the Mithali Raj led outfit could face strong resistance from the following three sides in the coming week.
One of the most consistent teams in the domestic circuit, Bengal have an excellent blend of young, exciting talent along with the experience of Indian international players. While the team is led by Jhulan Goswami, the veteran India speedster did not feature in the league stage of the competition barring the opening game against Rajasthan. All-rounder Rumeli Dhar captained the side in the absence of Goswami and helped them register five wins in as many matches in Elite Group C.
The team also has the services of opening batter, Vanitha VR and Gouher Sultana to shoulder the responsibility of the side and guide the youngsters in the squad. In 2018-2019, Bengal defeated Railways in the semi-finals before edging past Andhra Pradesh to lift their maiden title in the same city.
Karnataka skipper Veda Krishnamurthy will have plenty to prove this coming week and stake a claim for herself in the middle order of the Indian side. The right-hander is expected to play a major role in stabilising the inexperienced batting unit and guide them in challenging situations
With the likes of D Vrinda, Monica Patel and Pratyusha Chullar, Karnataka look like a formidable unit on paper. Another critical factor in their bid for a maiden championship is the conditions on offer and the nature of the wickets in Bengaluru.
Anuja Patil and Devika Vaidya will be two of the most keenly followed players in the Maharashtra side. The duo have been part of the national side in the last couple of years and will look to put out impressive performances and seal their place in the side for the world event.
Their batting looks settled with the likes of Shivali Shinde and Tejal Hasabnis, along with Anuja and Devika. Despite having a young side, the team has a wealth of experience in the domestic circuit, courtesy of their core team remaining the same for a number of years.
In Shraddha Pokharkar, the team have a quality left-arm swing bowler to make optimum use of the new ball and get the ball to move into the right-handed batters. With their all-around abilities, Maharashtra will be one of the teams to watch out for in this competition.