When the India began their ICC Women's World Cup 2017 campaign, things looked bright and hopeful. They began with a fine win over one of the favourites, hosts England, and then scored wins of the Pakistan, the West Indies and Sri Lanka and looked on top of the world with four straight wins. Then the wheels began wobbling as they went down to South Africa and Australia, and now face a powerful New Zealand unit at Derby on Saturday in a must-win match if they want to keep their campaign alive.
India are on the 4th spot on the points table as of now, but a loss would push them out of semi-final contention.
At Bristol, they were defeated by a dominant Australia by eight wickets, despite a fighting century from Punam Raut, and a record breaking 69 from captain Mithali Raj.
Whoever wins on Saturday will secure the last remaining semi-final spot with hosts England, South Africa and defending champions Australia already qualifying for the last four.
The Indians only have themselves to blame for their current situation as they batted unexpectedly slow against Australia on a track that was offering a bit of turn and grip.
After the early dismissal of Smriti Mandhana, skipper Raj and Raut started slowly, allowing the Australian spinners to dictate terms.
In trying to stabilise the innings after an early wicket, Raj, who became the highest ODI run-scorer during that knock and the first woman to score more than 6,000 ODI runs, played uncharacteristically slow, using up 54 balls for her first 20 runs, and finished on a 114-ball 69.
On the bowling front, pace spearhead Jhulan Goswami has looked a pale shadow of herself in the tournament so far and the Indians would be relying on their spinners -- Deepti, Ekta Bisht, Harmanpreet and Poonam Yadav to share the responsibility.
Just like India, New Zealand too are facing a must-win situation and are currently lying at the fifth spot in the standings with seven points from eight games.
New Zealand's 75-run loss to England in their last match has put them in a precarious position.
India: Mithali Raj (capt), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Mona Meshram, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, Nuzhat Parween, Punam Raut, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma.
New Zealand: Suzie Bates (capt), Amy Satterthwaite, Erin Bermingham, Sophie Devine, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Katey Martin, Thamsyn Newton, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu.
(With PTI Inputs)