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Women's Asia Cup: Solid India start favourites against Sri Lanka in final (preview)

Sylhet (Bangladesh), Oct 14 (IANS) A solid Indian team start as favourites to win their seventh Women’s Asia Cup title when they face a confident Sri Lanka in the final of the ongoing tournament at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium on Saturday.

With the Women’s T20 World Cup set to be held in South Africa next year, India have been on an experimenting spree in the Asia Cup. After winning their opening match co-incidentally against Sri Lanka, India have had experiments in their subsequent matches, though it didn’t work out against Pakistan.

Harmanpreet’s words about giving middle-order the game time, an aspect which cost them winning big knockout games in pressure situations, has been the major theme of India in the ongoing Asia Cup.

With Harmanpreet and Smriti Mandhana getting runs on their good days with the bat, Jemimah Rodrigues has stood up to be a consistent performer for India. Currently sitting on top of the run-getters list with 215 runs in seven matches at an average of 71.66 and strike-rate of 137.82, Jemimah is turning out to be a force to reckon with in the T20I side.

Sabbhineni Meghana has also performed well whenever she got chances, but India would be mighty pleased with how opener Shafali Verma has got back among the runs after going through a lean patch during 2022 Commonwealth Games and tour of England. Her getting runs gives India more confidence in their batting ahead of the title clash.

With the ball, Deepti Sharma has thrived with the bat and ball, especially with her miserly spell of 3/7 in the semi-final against Thailand to be the leading wicket-taker in the competition with 13 scalps. Apart from her, Rajeshwari Gayakwad (seven wickets) and Sneh Rana (five wickets) have been chipping in well in a tournament where spinners have called the shots due to slow nature of the pitches.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are in a Women’s Asia Cup final after 14 years, thanks to a thrilling one-run win over Pakistan in the second semi-final. The Chamari Athapaththu-led side successfully defended 12 runs off the last two overs to enter the Asia Cup final.

Though Chamari hasn’t got the big runs, Harshitha Madavi and Nilakshi de Silva, with cameos from other players like Oshadi Ranasinghe have done the bulk of scoring with the bat. With the ball, left-arm spinner Inoka Ranaweera (12 wickets) has been a vital player for Sri Lanka.

With the men’s team having stunned everyone to win the Asia Cup Trophy in the UAE in September, Sri Lanka must be heavily motivated to join their counterparts in being champions of the multi-nation event. But with an Indian team who have an eye on the big picture apart from clinching another Asia Cup title, the challenge will be huge.

Squads

India: Harmanpreet Kaur (Captain), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Deepti Sharma, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Sabbineni Meghana, Richa Ghosh (wicket-keeper), Sneh Rana, Dayalan Hemalatha, Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Radha Yadav, K.P. Navgire.

Sri Lanka: Chamari Athapaththu (captain), Hasini Perera, Harshitha Samarawickrama, Kavisha Dilhari, Nilakshi de Silva, Anushka Sanjeewani (wicket-keeper), Kaushani Nuthyangana, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Malsha Shehani, Madushika Methtananda, Inoka Ranaweera, Rashmi Silva, Sugandika Kumari, Achini Kulasuriya, Tharika Sewwandi.

–IANS

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