First week of the World Cup 2022 will be completed when the hosts New Zealand take on India on the seventh day of the tournament. Both the teams have been familiar opponents in recent times as they played out a five-match ODI series as a curtain raiser to the global event.
It’s debatable if the series helped New Zealand or India to come into the tournament more prepared than the other six sides. But it did help them to figure out the permutations and combinations for the World Cup. They will look to join Australia and West Indies at the top come Thursday (March 10) at the Seddon Park in Hamilton. They are likely to go into the match unchanged as from the last game they played against Bangladesh and Pakistan respectively.
What’s at Stake:
The first few results have thrown the World Cup wide open with West Indies registering wins against New Zealand and England. The hosts were shocked in the opener where they went down by three runs after coming into the tournament with that confident 4-1 series win against India. Defending champions England’s multiple losses might help them breath a little better, but as batter Amy Satterthwaite said in the pre-match press conference on March 8, New Zealand still control their destiny in the competition. A loss against India might not be end of the world, but they would still want to make up for the upset they received at the hands of West Indies.
With Sophie Devine, Suzie Bates and Amelia Kerr finding form in the first couple of matches at various times, bowling is the worry for New Zealand and they tried to address it by bringing in Frances Mackay and Hayley Jensen in the game against Bangladesh. Both picked up a wicket each while Satterthwaite was a surprise addition to the spin contingent in the dominating win against the sub-continental side.
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For India, they would like to believe they can take the positives from the Pakistan match and go to top of the table with a win in Hamilton. Their bowling fired in unison in their opening fixture, but they would like the batters like Shafali Verma, Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur and Richa Ghosh to come good and not leave things at the hands of allrounders of the lower middle order in Pooja Vastrakar and Sneh Rana.
If Hamilton once again provides standard ODI batting surface, it remains to be seen if India’s spin bowlers can stand up – something they have failed to do on good batting decks in the recent past. They will look to draw confidence from the match against Pakistan.
What they said:
“Amelia (Kerr) has got a very mature head on for I guess at such a young age and it's been well documented that she had some mental health struggles last year. She obviously missed the tour to England, but it gave her time I guess to go away and reset a little bit, first and foremost. Then outside of that she has been able to spend a lot of quality time in the nets really working on her game and I think we've been seeing the rewards of all that hard work this season in terms of the way she has played,”
- Amy Satterthwaite on Amelia Kerr’s great run on her return.
“Whatever options we have, we have to make use of all those things and definitely Pooja (Vastrakar), Meghna (Singh), Renuka (Singh Thakur), even Simran (Dil Bahadur) are also in the team. We always discuss that which area we're going to bowl, because in New Zealand it is important to bowl in the right area, and the grounds are pretty open and there's always wind blowing. So, how to handle, how to take advantage of those things, we discuss a lot of stuff and everybody will not be able to perform in a same time. One day one bowler will perform and others will support her,”
- Jhulan Goswami on India’s fast bowling unit.
Players to watch out for:
Sneh Rana: Ever since her return to international cricket, the off-spinning allrounder has been impressive in most of the opportunities she got. But, unfortunately, she hasn’t been a sure starter in the playing XI in all the matches. However, the record-breaking partnership with Pooja Vastrakar and her personal performance - she scored an unbeaten 53 before picking up two for 27 runs in nine overs – might have made her a place a surety in the starting XI in the immediate future.
The 28-year-old provides India’s bowling the balance and much needed fire power in the lower middle order.
Jess Kerr: The pitch and the conditions in Hamilton saw Australia and England play a high-scoring day/night affair with 608 runs coming for the loss of only 11 wickets. If the conditions remain the same, New Zealand will be hoping that the swing bowler will provide them with some early breakthroughs to negate the flatter nature of the surface later on.
24-year-old Jess has picked up 19 wickets at an average of 24.84 from 15 matches since her debut against South Africa in 2020. She has usually provided New Zealand with early wickets. Even though she didn’t pick up a wicket against Bangladesh, Jess could have the upper hand against a struggling Shafali Verma.
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Head to head: Played 53 matches, India 20 – 32 New Zealand; 1 Tie
- Rajeshwari Gayakwad has picked up 19 wickets at a bowling average of 16.21 from the ten matches she played against New Zealand. Last time these two sides played in a World Cup match, the left-arm spinner registered her career-best figures of five for 15 to help India qualify for the semi-finals of the 2017 edition.
- Amelia Kerr has ten wickets from the nine matches she played against India. But her bowling average of 42.00 and economy rate of 5.51 are much higher than her career numbers (bowling average: 26.86, economy rate: 4.57). Amelia hasn’t been more expensive against any of the sides and only against South Africa she averages more.
India: Mithali Raj (c), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Harmanpreet Kaur, Richa Ghosh (wk), Sneh Rana, Pooja Vastrakar, Jhulan Goswami, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Meghna Singh
New Zealand: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Amelia Kerr, Amy Satterthwaite, Maddy Green, Katey Martin (wk), Frances Mackay, Lea Tahuhu, Hayley Jensen, Jess Kerr, Hannah Rowe