India register back-to-back wins in Women’s World Cup qualifier

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Veda Krishnamurthy scored 17*.

Fast bowler Mansi Joshi picked up three wickets for just four runs as India cruised to a nine-wicket win over Thailand in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 on Wednesday.

Only two of Thailand’s batters – Chanida Sutthiruang and Nattaya Boochatham – managed to reach double figures as they were bowled out for just 55.

Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad took two wickets each for India.

In reply, India needed just 12.4 overs to chase down the target – losing only the wicket of Harmanpreet Kaur. Thirush Kamini and Veda Krishnamurthy were the unbeaten batters at the end of the innings.

Joshi was named Player of the Match in her first game in the 50-over format for India.

She said: “It is a special feeling to win the player of the match award in my first 50-over game for India. I got good encouragement from my teammates and support staff.”

“It was important for us to win this game convincingly, and now we have to build on this.”

This is India’s second win in as many games at the tournament, having defeated hosts Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

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India vs Bangladesh: Five things to look forward to

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India have played some brilliant cricket in the home season so far.

Scarcely eight days after hosting England on their full tour of five Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is, India are set to cross the boundary rope once again.

For the first time ever, Bangladesh are scheduled to visit for a Test match in a partition of sorts in a busy home season for India, landing between two full Test series against England and Australia.

The game, which begins in Hyderabad on Thursday, marks the first time since Sri Lanka’s 2009 tour that a subcontinent rival has visited India for a Test. The sides’ last meeting in the longest format came in June 2015, when India were visitors to Fatullah in a rain-hit draw.

The two teams have endured contrasting fortunes in recent times, but despite the limitation of a single Test on the Bangla Tigers’ visit, it promises to be an exciting five days in Hyderabad.

India and Bangladesh have, of course, traded notable blows in limited-overs games over the past few years. From Bangladesh’s 2-1 ODI series win in 2015 to that sensational last over in the World T20, incident has never been far behind when these two lock horns.

Here are five things to look forward to when India and Bangladesh take to the field.

RETURN OF THE FAVOURITE SONS

Against England, there were moments India found themselves bereft of experienced Test performers. Injury forced out capable regulars like Ajinkya Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha at various points in the series, and while that was hardly a crisis – opportunities afforded to the likes of Karun Nair, Jayant Yadav and Parthiv Patel were grabbed with both hands – it will undoubtedly be a boost for the Indians to have stalwarts of the Test team back in, and with time to get back in touch before the visit of the Australians.

Lead spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are also back after being rested for the T20 series against England. Nair and Yadav have been retained from the England series, which gives India four spinners with the addition of Kuldeep Yadav.

Ishant Sharma, too, has returned from illness to bolster a pace attack that was a little short on numbers. The only disappointment, though, is the continued absence of Mohammed Shami, whose injuries have kept him out since the conclusion of the third Test against England.

CROUCHING TIGERS

Certainly, the mismatch between the two sides appears to be great.

India are at home, where they have won ten of the last twelve Tests, accumulating in excess of 400 runs five times out of eight innings they batted in the last series against England and piling up their highest-ever total (759-7d) in Chennai, with Jadeja claiming personal best bowling figures of 7-48.

By contrast, Bangladesh has won just one of their previous nine Tests and their last series victory coming over Zimbabwe in 2014. Most recently, they lost 2-0 in New Zealand, having let the first Test at Wellington slip through their fingers despite accumulating a mammoth first-innings total of 595-8d.

Moreover, Mustafizur Rahman was declared unfit to play following a hamstring injury and a recent return from shoulder surgery. It does, admittedly, not paint a particularly flattering picture of Bangladesh as strong enough opponents to match an Indian side that has been irresistible at home.

But things are rarely as simple as that. Unlikely challengers to India’s hegemony they may appear to be – and with some justification – Bangladesh has nevertheless held both England and South Africa at home in recent years.

Several key batsmen have returned from injuries that kept them out of the Christchurch Test against New Zealand, while seamer Shafiul Islam also returns.

With the majority of their strongest side finally in place once again, the visitors may benefit from the lack of pressure on them in Hyderabad. Keep an eye out for surprises, Bangladesh has a history of springing one or two of those.

FACES NEW AND NEW-ISH

Of the two major recalls – Liton Das and Abhinav Mukund – to the respective squads, it is definitely the latter that catches the eye. Absent from the Indian side for five-and-a-half years [versus Das’ 18 months], Mukund arrives having scored four hundreds in the Ranji Trophy as Tamil Nadu reached the semi-finals.

Besides him, the other eye-catching name is that of Hardik Pandya, who is yet to don the whites for his country, but gathered five wickets and a half-century in the ODIs against England.

Mukund is back in the Indian team for the first time since 2011.

Mukund is back in the Indian team for the first time since 2011.

Das, in fact, made his debut in the 2015 Fatullah Test against the same opponents and has had a modest international career so far – just one fifty in 15 international innings – but the wicketkeeper-batsman recently notched a double-hundred in first-class cricket and boasts an encouraging domestic record.

The line-up has been restored to near-full strength, with the recovery and return of Mominul Haque and skipper Mushfiqur Rahim.

Opener Imrul Kayes, however, has been ruled out due to a thigh injury suffered in the tour game against India A, meaning Soumya Sarkar [who scored a fifty in the India A encounter] may have to step into his shoes again after deputising for Kayes in New Zealand.

BATTED OUT

With the return of Test regulars, India’s batting line-up bears a settled look and they now also have options in reserve, to fit into perhaps one flexible slot in the order. This, a team that batted England out of not one but three first innings, when the Three Lions’ totals of 400 or more were overhauled on each of those occasions.

For a side where spinners have often grabbed the headlines for career-best and record-breaking performances, the last series seemed to be the Indian batting order saying, to both their own bowlers and to rival batsmen: “Anything you can do, we can do better.”

Most of Bangladesh’s top batsmen are back in the side, which would give them the tools for a stern reply to their hosts in the batting department, but they will need them to all be at their best if they are to make a fist of this game.

Seemingly unlikely on the surface, but you wonder if Bangladesh are actually even that far off a major win such as this would be. Mahmudullah has struggled to convert his starts into big scores, but Shakib Al-Hasan slammed a double-hundred in Wellington and the fit-again Haque and Rahim were in decent form prior to injury – with the captain looking in especially good touch after belting 58 in the tour game.

How these two sets of batsmen match up will make for interesting viewing.

A MATTER OF CHOICE

For Bangladesh, the question of team selection is not as pronounced as it is for their hosts. Kayes’ injury may have been an unwelcome setback, but the visitors’ choice of batsmen is now an exceedingly simple one.

The only question mark is over the balance of speed and spin in the bowling attack – and in this matter it seems Bangladesh are helped not only by the availability of Shakib’s [who bats in the middle order] left-arm spin, but also by the fact that their way into this match is through their batting rather than the bowling. It would suggest the option of a line-up that plumbs the greatest batting depth will give them their best shot at a win.

As for their hosts, who suddenly look flush with options not known to them at the beginning of this winter, they now have the question to resolve of who to play bearing in mind the imminent visit of the Australians.

Take a selection risk in a Test where they are overwhelming favourites or get everyone fit and firing for tougher tests ahead?

India will likely play it safe and negotiate the challenge of both Bangladesh and then Australia with their strongest side, but nothing ventured is nothing gained and every opportunity, especially to men such as Mukund, is vital.

The treatment of Patel suggests there is really no security to be bought with good performance, but another chance for the youngsters and experienced hands not part of the strongest XI will not hurt. We shall see.

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Rahane to play against Bangladesh, says Kohli

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Kohli and Rahane have formed the backbone of the Indian batting line-up.

Karun Nair made full use of the opportunity handed him when Ajinkya Rahane was ruled out due to injury for the fifth Test against England in December by scoring a triple century .

With Rahane now fit for the one-off Test against Bangladesh, there was a dilemma on the hands of the Indian think-tank over whether the Mumbai batsman should be brought back directly into the team.

Indian captain Virat Kohli put an end to the debate at the pre-match press conference, saying Rahane will play.

Nair may still play, but his position is dependent on what balance India strike with their bowling attack.

“Karun did well but we cannot ignore what Jinx [Rahane] has done over the past two years. He has put in lots of hard work and has performed,” said Kohli.

“We are lucky that we have a bench strength. We have a pool of 20-30 players from which we can choose.”

This is the first time ever that Bangladesh are playing a Test in India and Kohli feels that Mushfiqur Rahim’s side should be playing more Test cricket.

He further added that the Indian team will not take this game any differently compared to any other match.

“It is a historic moment. Bangladesh are a good side. They have good batsmen. They did well in New Zealand. But they don’t play enough cricket. They should play more to understand the mindset of Test cricket,” said the Indian skipper.

“We will play like we do against any other team.”

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