India Women in England 2008 August 29, 2008

England aim to cap impressive season

Charlotte Edwards is moulding an impressive young team © Christopher Lee
England have the chance to crown a stellar year when they take on India this week in the first of five one-dayers. But while West Indies and South Africa may have been brushed aside (crushed aside in West Indies' case) now comes the sternest test of summer, against one of the world's top four sides.

England have already performed well against the other two of the quartet, drawing with Australia and beating New Zealand in their most successful tour of Australasia earlier this year, and a good showing against India would be handy preparation in the lead up to the all-important 2009.

With no other tours planned, it is also currently their final chance to meet against international opposition before the World Cup in March and, in India, they have saved the best of the summer's opposition to last.

India had a quiet home season by their standards, playing only in the Asia Cup which they won almost embarrassingly easily. With the exception of a 29-run victory against Sri Lanka, the margins were gapingly wide. They have not been truly tested for 18 months since coming last in the Quadrangular Series which they hosted, although that placing flattered England, who brought up their first win only in the third-place play-off.

England's resurgence since that jolt has been remarkable - thanks to a combination of investment and commitment - and they have been developing into a young side to be reckoned with. Charlotte Edwards continually proves herself as both captain and an experienced allrounder it is expected that batsman Claire Taylor, England's Player of the Year, can shake off illness in time for Saturday's opener at Bath.

Confidence in the England camp is running high after beating South Africa 4-0 in the recent series, which was also an opportunity to give Anya Shrubsole her international debut. She impressed in her first Twenty20 in particular, taking 3 for 16 with the series already in the bag. Shrubsole, 16, comes from Bath and will hope to make a splash if selected against India.

England trounced India 4-0 when they visited two years ago but even despite the visitors' recent lack of international matches, Edwards is not underestimating them. "India will be tough opposition this summer and we know we have to be at the top of our game to beat them," she said. "They've got some world-class players like Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami and it will be a good challenge for us.

"We've got a strong squad, a great blend of youth and experience and we can't wait for this series to get started - it should be a really good series with some excellent cricket."

England are expected to be at full strength, while India have already lost Rumeli Dhar to injury. The uncapped Nirajana Nagarajan has been called up in her place.

Jenny Roesler is an assistant editor at Cricinfo