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For India, the ability is certainly there but the consistency is lacking

Pakistan are looking for a way out of the rut, and the return of Bismah Maroof should help them on that path

Richa Ghosh swings the ball away towards square-leg, New Zealand Women vs India Women, 2nd ODI, Queenstown, February 15, 2022

The emergence of Richa Ghosh has added depth to India's batting  •  Getty Images


India have blown hot and blown cold in ODIs since the last World Cup in 2017, when they were the beaten finalists, losing a match they had every right to win against England.
They have won 19 and lost 21 of the 40 they have played since. More importantly, India have just four wins in 16 matches since the start of 2021, which should be a major concern. However, they came close to beating Australia in Australia before ending their record-winning streak.
The other concern is that India may or may not have zeroed in on their best XI. Yastika Bhatia was seen as the No. 3 before Deepti Sharma moved up to take the spot in New Zealand.
The spotlight, though, would be on their bowling attack, led, perhaps for the last time, by Jhulan Goswami. They failed to defend scores of 270 and 279 in successive games against New Zealand. Without the experienced Shikha Pandey, Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh Thakur and Pooja Vastrakar will have to step up and support Goswami, who has continues to keep things tight.
Mithali Raj (capt), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-capt) Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh, Taniya Bhatia, Sneh Rana, Pooja Vastrakar, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh Thakur, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad | Travelling reserves: S Meghana, Ekta Bisht, Simran Dil Bahadur
Recent form
Having returned to the ODI circuit in 2021 after a 15-month gap, India have lost series against South Africa (at home), England, Australia and New Zealand (away). However, the run has also included a win that ended Australia's record winning streak of 26 ODIs.
Player to watch
Richa Ghosh has slotted seamlessly into India's lower-middle order, using her attacking game to help India finish strongly. In her seven ODIs, she has hit two fifties, one of which was at a strike rate of 179.31 against New Zealand. Though she has some tidying up to do with her glovework, her ability as a batter should help India push their totals towards 300, something that won't be too rare in New Zealand.
What the captain said
"The young talent in the side today, I tell them that you don't have the experience of the past World Cups, so it's a clean slate for you, all you have to do is enjoy the big stage. The only advice I would give the young players is enjoy the big stage because if you pile up the pressure you may not be playing the best that the team and you would want to do in the World Cup."
Mithali Raj


For far too long, Pakistan have simply existed on the circuit without the sort of progress they might have hoped for. There are plenty of reasons why that's the case, but at this World Cup, they would want to shelve that reputation in search of tangible on-field progress. They have gone winless at the last two ODI World Cups, and go into this tournament far from being the favourites. There have been limited signs of improvement, though. There were a couple of away ODI wins against West Indies last year and an upset T20I win against South Africa in Durban. Not to forget the win over New Zealand in the warm-up game the other day. But Pakistan have tended to lose the matches they are expected to lose, and win the ones they're supposed to win. It's been a bit predictable, but that's the rut they have found themselves stuck in, and will want to break out of.
Bismah Maroof (capt), Nida Dar, Aiman Anwer, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Ghulam Fatima, Javeria Khan, Muneeba Ali, Nahida Khan, Nashra Sandhu, Omaima Sohail, Sidra Ameen, Sidra Nawaz
Recent form
It's been underwhelming. There was a recent big victory against Zimbabwe in Harare, but also a defeat against Bangladesh, and those three wins against West Indies and South Africa were accompanied by nine losses against the same oppositions last year.
Player to watch
Bismah Maroof has been a pioneering cricketer for Pakistan for more than a decade and a half. She returns to the fold after her maternity leave, which prompted the PCB to adopt a maternity policy for the first time. The Pakistan captain's presence is a major fillip for a side that doesn't quite boast the strength and depth of some of the legitimate contenders. After spending nearly a year away from cricket, it will be key to Pakistan's chances that a refreshed Maroof hits the ground running.
What the captain said
"We arrive in New Zealand well prepared, with our eyes set on one of the four semi-final spots. We have never made it to the knockouts of any World Cup across the two formats, but that does not mean that time will never come."
Bismah Maroof