ICC World Twenty20: Indian women start campaign vs Sri Lanka, all eyes on Mithali Raj

Indian women, led by the experienced Mithali Raj, figure in Group B that also has West Indies and ICC World Twenty20 hosts, Bangladesh.

Updated: March 24, 2014 14:24 IST
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Led by the experienced Mithali Raj, Indian women begin their ICC World Twenty20 campaign with a group match against Sri Lanka in Sylhet on Monday evening. The West Indies and hosts Bangladesh also feature in India's group.

India have a lot to prove in this edition of the World Cup after failing to go beyond the first round in the last world event they played. In 2013, India hosted the women's World Cup but after losses to England and Sri Lanka, the hosts crashed out. Mithali is hoping that history will not repeat in Bangladesh this time.

"We won't carry the past here, that is for sure. (But) irrespective of where the World Cup is played, the pressure is always there," Mithali told ESPNCricinfo. "No matter how many world events you have played in, it is always going into a fresh one. Don't think it decreases because you are away from home. The event itself carries huge pressure. Everyone expects you to do well," the Indian captain added.

Thirty-one-year-old Mithali will have to shoulder the batting responsibilities, for sure. In warm-up games, she has scored 42 and 53 against Ireland and New Zealand, respectively, but she is aware that a match situation will be different. Poonam Raut, who scored a fifty against Ireland in a warm-up game, will have to back her captain up.

"I don't consider the warm-ups as benchmarks," said Mithali, who is expected to open the batting and hold the innings as long as she can. "They were of course helpful for the girls to get used to the surroundings and the atmosphere. We have two-three new spinners, and it was also a chance for me to gauge them," Mithali, who has played 41 T20 internationals and 148 ODIs, said.

Just like India, the Sri Lankan girls play their first match with a win and a loss in warm-up games behind them. The Lankans lost to Australia but defeated Ireland. The middle-order batsmen - Deepika Rasangika and Shashikala Siriwardene - have scored fifties and that should give them confidence.

India's bowling will centre around quickie and former skipper Jhulan Goswami. In the men's competition, pace has worked well for teams that could bowl the yorker and wide full tosses to perfection. Jhulan's experience will count here.

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