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India eves set to take on England in first T20I, onus shifts to Harmanpreet, Smriti

Harmanpreet Kaur. Photo: ICC

Northampton, July 9 (MNN) When Indian women’s cricket team takes on England in the first T20I at the Country Ground here later on Friday, the onus will be on skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and her deputy Smriti Mandhana to lead from the front.

The Indian skipper has struggled with the bat in the shortest format of the game, with her last fifty coming way back in 2018. India will hope Kaur comes out of her slump just in time for the first T20I.

England head into the T20I leg of the tour with a multi-format series lead of 6-4 — one-off Test was drawn whereas two of the three ODIs were won by the hosts.

India will be looking to carry the momentum they built with a thrilling win in the third ODI.

However, the visitors will be without their leading run-getter (Mithali Raj, 206 runs) and joint-leading wicket-taker (Jhulan Goswami, 3 wickets) from the ODI series — both of whom are retired from the shortest form of the game.

Considering India’s struggles with the bat in the ODI series, the onus will be on captain Harmanpreet Kaur and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana to lead from the front when the match starts at 6.30 pm (local time).

England, on the other hand, will want to put their only loss in the series behind them as soon as they can.

The hosts have named a strong squad for the T20I series with Danni Wyatt recalled after being left out of the Test and ODI sides that beat India.

England spinner Sophie Ecclestone has been a thorn in the side of the visitors with 16 wickets so far and will be looking to cap off the tour with another strong display.

The last time India and England were supposed to clash in a T20I was in the semi-final of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020.

Unfortunately, the match was washed out without a ball being bowled and India went through to the finals of the World Cup since they finished on top of Group A while England were runners-up in Group B.

Prior to that, the two teams faced each other twice in the tri-series that also involved Australia.

India won the first game chasing 147 as Harmanpreet Kaur led by example with an unbeaten 34-ball 42.

England took the second game chasing a low target of 124 on the back of Anya Shrubsole’s 3/29 and Nat Sciver’s half-century.

England head coach Lisa Keightley said: “We’ve played some good cricket across both the Test and the ODIs and we’ve named a strong squad for the T20I series. It’s 6-4 in the multi-format series and it’s a series we’re pushing hard to win. We probably weren’t quite at our best in the third ODI, so I’d like us to hit the ground running in the first T20I and be ruthless.”

Harmanpreet Kaur said: “Every series is important to us. Whenever we play any series, the main purpose is always building the team towards the World Cup. At this moment, our team is looking very balanced. We were struggling for runs in the last few overs but the addition of Sneh Rana has given us that balance with both bat and ball.”

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