An even win-loss record leaves India and Sri Lanka at the crossroads. In other words, it will be do-or-die for the Women In Blue when they take on their subcontinental rivals in the last league encounter of the ICC Women’s World Cup at Brabourne Stadium on Tuesday.
With only the net run-rate separating the four teams in Group ‘A’, the hosts will look to seal their berth in the Super Six stage with a straightfoward win. India do hold the edge, for they are yet to lose a match against the Lankans.
The sides last met in an ODI at the 2009 World Cup in Australia. Mithali Raj had scored an unbeaten 75 to steer India to a 35-run victory in Sydney. The skipper will be hoping to come good this time too. “It’s a do-or-die game for us and we are not going to take Sri Lanka lightly. On such a wicket especially, it could be anybody’s game,” said Raj.
With two centurions in two games and having scored over 500 runs so far, batting has definitely been India’s strong point. Openers Thirushkamini Murugesan and Poonam Raut have been in good stead and have got ample support down the order from Harmanpreet Kaur, Jhulan Goswami and Karuna Jain. The running between the wickets has been below par but it’s their bowling in the death that has been the big worry.
Raj, however, is unperturbed. “The kind of start the bowlers have given us by getting us the breakthrough is great. If the conditions are the same, I will still opt to field because the way Jhulan bowled in the first spell (in both matches), she was brilliant. I wouldn’t want any other pacer to get that kind of edge. So I will still go for fielding if we win the toss,” the skipper added. “I hope we don’t give away too many runs in the powerplay against Sri Lanka. That’s where we lost the plot against England.”
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, can’t take things for granted as a poor net run-rate leaves them in a must-win situation. They stunned one and all by beating defending champions England in their opening encounter, but a 209-run loss at the hands of the West Indies brought them down to earth. “We have no option but to win our last game against India,” skipper Shashikala Siriwardene said. “We have to look at the positives from our match against England and implement those against India. At the same time, we should try and learn from the mistakes we made against the West Indies.”