There’s a thrill. There is delicious jeopardy in the air for the 3rd ODI at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua. It is a game where the Indian ladies know they should, but the Windies Women sense they just might. The Indian ladies drew parity in the 2nd ODI, courtesy a competent batting display from the Indian middle-order & an extremely dextrous spin trio. Coolly, icily, the women in blue took the game away, eventually winning by a comfortable 53-run margin.
The Windies marched into the Indian mansion & turned over the furniture in the first ODI before it took a clinical effort from Mithali Raj’s legion to beat a mercurial Windies side in the second. Stafanie Taylor’s knock in the first game & Harmanpreet Kaur’s 52-ball 46 has now set precedence for the final ODI. The unit showing more intent will likely win the 3rd ODI & with that the series. The Women in maroon have a chance to revive themselves on the world stage while the ladies from the Indian sub-continent have a reputation to live up to.
Ground details and team combination
Of all the venues in the Caribbean Islands that have hosted a minimum of four WODIs, run making at the North Sound is the second best. The aggregate run-rate here is 4.2 after four completed WODIs & the balls/wicket is a healthy 42.1. On September 8, 2019, at this venue, the Aussies Women pummelled the Windies’ for a colossal 308/2 in their full quota of overs. Clearly justifying that the turf is not as abrasive as the batters have made it seem. The team batting first, including the last two fixtures between India & West Indies has won three out of the four WODIs. The Aussie ladies chased down 180 a couple of months back with remarkable ease, but do India & West Indies possess the same quality? That is a massive mind-twister.
Smriti Mandhana missed the first two ODIs & her inclusion in the third ODI is not assured. Rajeshwari Gayakwad replaced Ekta Bisht in the last ODI & will retain her spot after a miserly spell in the 53-run win. The Indian side is likely to field the same XI. The troika of spinners who stifled Windies’ run making will play a significant role yet again.
Hayley Matthews returns to the team having served an eight-match suspension for a code of conduct breach. The all-rounder will be drafted into the playing XI. Caneisha Isaac, an uncapped pacer has also earned a call-up.
Harmanpreet Kaur at number four is an absolute run-machine. She has batted at number 4, 46 times, scored 1,525 runs at 39.1. Her strike-rate at two-drop, an impressive 69.9. In India’s last 5 fixtures, however, Kaur has come into bat at number 5 and has registered scores of 39, 38, 5 & 46. Her strike-rate in these fixtures, a flinty 76.64. Should the Indian contingent consider promoting the Indian marauder at number 4? Here is a strong case.
Only Jemimah has scored over 70 runs per hundred deliveries(in the last 5 innings) while the other three from the top 4, Mithali Raj, Priya Punia & Punam Raut have managed strike-rates of 58.96, 57.37 & 58.91 respectively. Since her 171* against the Aussies in the 50-over World Cup, Kaur has batted at number 4, 13 times & her strike-rate in this interim, a phenomenal 82.1. No boundary is long enough when this Indian superstar gets going. Harmanpreet will be the player to watch out for.
One cricketer who works well under the radar & does exceptionally well every single time is Deepti Sharma. The all-rounder has been the go-to woman as far as getting breakthroughs & keeping a check on the run-rate is concerned. In the last two years, Sharma has picked 23 wickets in 23 games & all the dismissals have been of the top & middle order batters (from #2 to #6). Her bowling figures in the last three games - 2/25, 2/41 & 2/24. While her recent form with the bat has not been mightily impressive, since 2018, Sharma at number six has operated at an average of 37.50.
Hayley Matthews will return to the Windies’ set-up after an eight-match suspension & she will be a player to keep a keen eye on. The opener averages a decent 25.50 in WODIs but against India, the average goes up to 29.25, four more than her career average & her strike-rate jumps to 76.47, 10 more than her aggregate. Matthews is a master at constructing an innings. She starts at a strike-rate of 56.71 for her first 10 runs. Thereafter, she maintains a scoring rate of at least 70. Windies have been marginally deterrent at the start of their innings & Matthews might just provide them with some much-needed impetus. She has picked seven wickets in three matches this year that also includes her best bowling figures of 4/57 against the English ladies.
Suggested Fantasy Team
Shemaine Campbelle(wk), Mithali Raj, Jemimah Rodrigues, Chedean Nation, Punam Raut, Harmanpreet Kaur ©, Hayley Matthews (vc), Deepti Sharma, Anisa Mohammad, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad.
When: 6th November 2019, Wednesday
Where: Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound, Antigua
Kick-Off Time: 7:00 PM, IST