Windies women need good start vs India
Today's Women's World Cup 2013 opening match for West Indies against hosts India will be about more than just a good start for the regional team. A win or a loss could be the difference between them and a semi-final spot.
For captain Merissa Aguilleira and the rest of the Windies squad, the match at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai will be a test of how much they have progressed since they fell short of the semi-finals four years ago in Australia.
But it is also a step towards the semis, with Sri Lanka and England alongside them in Group A. Group B includes Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa.
The English are the defending champions and group favourites, and the Windies will meet them in their final group encounter, while Sri Lanka are also expected to be competitive.
In 2011 the Windies women emerged unbeaten to easily win the Women's World Cup qualifiers, and were virtually untested.
And in the past six One-Day International series, they have lost only twice; last year's 4-1 whipping in England before the Women's World T20—where they reached the semis—and a 3-2 loss away to India in 2011. Their only series win against England was in November 2009, whom they edged 2-1 at home.
West Indies have managed home series victories against Pakistan (3-1), India (2-1) and Sri Lanka (2-1), and earlier this month rebounded from a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2 at home to South Africa, with the fourth match rained out with the home side in the ascendency.
Key to the Caribbean girls' success will be their batting. A lack of consistency in their batting has often been the team's downfall. Only all-rounder/opener Stafanie Taylor, last year's ICC Women's Play of the Year, is in the top ten of the ICC rankings, at second spot.
It showed when the Windies faced Australia minus a couple of faces in their recent practice match, as they tumbled to a 135-run loss, with in-form batsman Deandra Dottin the only player close to 50.
In the bowling department, off-spinners Anisa Mohammed (six) and Stafanie Taylor (seventh) and medium pacer Shanel Daley (tenth) are all in the top ten.
But the Windies women, under coach Sherwin Campbell, are confident about their chances in the 2013 tournament.
Shakera Selman, an experienced medium pacer with 43 ODIs and 34 T20s under her belt, believes the regional side is ready for the challenge that lies ahead.
"The girls are more experienced than we were four years ago when we went to Australia, and there is real belief in the camp that we can win the tournament," the 23-year-old Barbadian said.
"We are far from home, but the pitches are similar to some of those back home so that could work in our favour".
The Windies women had their second warm up scheduled for Tuesday against a Mumbai Combined XI cancelled due to injuries fears, with some players already carrying niggling injuries. Selman, though, is not concentrating on those issues.
"This is my second World Cup (50 overs). I played my first World Cup in Australia in 2009 and you can feel the vibes for this tournament. It feels much bigger than the tournament back then," she said.
"We came a bit earlier than the other teams, we have been able to shake off the jetlag and we feel ready to play".
They need to be ready against India today, with only the top two teams advancing from the group into the semi-finals, and with Sri Lanka, and England still to come.
Ekta Bisht, Jhulan Goswami, Karu Jain, Thirush Kamini, Harmanpreet Kaur, Reema Malhotra, Mona Meshram, Sulakshana Naik (wicket-keeper), Nagarajan Niranjana, Rasanara Parwin, Mithali Raj (captain), Poonam Raut, Amita Sharma, Shubhlaksmi Sharma, Gouher Sultana
Merissa Aguilleira (captain/wicket-keeper), Shemaine Campbelle, Shanel Daley, Deandra Dottin, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Natasha McLean, Anisa Mohammed, Subrina Munroe, Juliana Nero, June Ogle-Thomas, Shaquana Quintyne, Shakera Selman, Tremayne Smartt, Stafanie Taylor