I will always be happy to score for the country, and don’t really think where it takes me individually. I enjoy batting and I don’t intend to stop scoring runs: Mithali Raj © Getty Images

I will always be happy to score for the country, and don’t really think where it takes me individually. I enjoy batting and I don’t intend to stop scoring runs: Mithali Raj © Getty Images

Day 15, July 8

India v South Africa, Leicester

South Africa are the only team to have beaten India in the latter’s last 21 encounters. It came during the league stages of the Quadrangular Series in Potchefstroom earlier this year, and that was one of the five games that the two sides have played against each other in 2017. There is no surprise element left, and both the captains agreed that it will boil down to which of the two teams executes their plans better.

Indian spinners have been the talking point of this tournament, but the same cannot be said about their pace bowling or fielding. But it is their top-order batting that needs to come to the party if India were to fancy their chances of beating South Africa at Grace Road and confirm a place in the semifinal. With the team having played 359 dot balls against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Mithali Raj admitted that the top-order needs to show more intent to take the score past 250.

South Africa, on the other, hand are hurt after allowing England to make 373 in their previous game. Dane van Niekerk said that bowlers are “hurt” but she is excited to see how they respond. The opening pair of Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt have set the tempo, playing a big role in South Africa becoming the first team ever in the history of Women’s ODIs to post a 300-plus total while chasing. They eventually ended on the losing side, but the team takes a lot of confidence from that game.

India, who will be playing here for the first time in this tournament, just need to look at the history of the venue for some inspiration. It was here in 2006 against England that they saved the Test with just two wickets in hand. They carried that momentum to win the game in Taunton and record India’s first-ever Test series in England. Raj and Jhulan Goswami are the only surviving members from that squad, while Hemalata Kala is one of the travelling selectors.

Chloe Tryon recorded the second fastest half-century in World Cups in the previous game against England. © Getty Images

Chloe Tryon recorded the second fastest half-century in World Cups in the previous game against England. © Getty Images

Player in focus
South Africa
Chloe Tyron: Having recorded the second fastest half-century in World Cups in the previous game, Tyron is on a high. She was in a happy mood at the nets, and South Africa would hope that she can score quick runs after the openers lay the foundation.

Mithali Raj: Raj has kept saying that she does not want to talk about the impending record. She is now 34 away from surpassing Charlotte Edwards as the highest run-getter in ODIs, and 41 away from becoming the first to make 6000 runs. “I believe in scoring runs, and I was asked about this in the beginning of the tournament. I still stick to what I said. It is important for me to get as many runs as I can so that it helps my team,” she said. “I will always be happy to score for the country, and don’t really think where it takes me individually. I enjoy batting and I don’t intend to stop scoring runs.”

What they said:
Dane van Niekerk: “It helps a lot (when you have played the same opposition regularly). We have played them quite a lot in the past. It makes it easier with plans. We have played four to five games in the last few months. Plan wise, we can’t change much. We know where they hit, how they bowl, we have faced them a lot more than the rest of the world. It’s a big plus for us, but considering our previous game we need to execute our plans. Otherwise it can go haywire.”

Mithali Raj: “Maybe there may not be much of a surprise factor. But again how well each one of us executes our plans. It is on that said that who can execute the plans and sticks to the basics that counts. We started well against England, but have not carried that forward. It works for them also. They might have 300-odd runs in the last game, and not necessarily they will come up with same runs tomorrow.”

Teams
India: Mithali Raj (capt), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Mona Meshram, Nuzhat Parween, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Raut, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma, Poonam Yadav.

South Africa: Dane van Niekerk (capt), Trisha Chetty (wk), Moseline Daniels, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Shabnim Ismail, Nadine de Klerk, Lizelle Lee, Sune Luus, Raisibe Ntozhake, Mignon du Preez, Andrie Steyn, Chloe Tryon, Laura Wolvaardt.

The bowling unit is improving with every game. It's only about clicking at the right time. We have the belief in ourselves, it's only that we have to execute it tomorrow: Sana Mir © Getty Images

The bowling unit is improving with every game. It’s only about clicking at the right time. We have the belief in ourselves, it’s only that we have to execute it tomorrow: Sana Mir
© Getty Images

New Zealand v Pakistan, Taunton
New Zealand rested Erin Bermingham in the eight-wicket win over Windies because of a niggle, but it isn’t expected to be anything major. Her replacement in the side Leigh Kasperek enjoyed an excellent game, picking up three wickets and could keep her place. They need a win and a healthy run-rate to retain their top four spot on the table. Pakistan had Australia in trouble early on at 7 for 2, but couldn’t press forward their case. They are mathematically still in contention for a semifinal spot, but it will be unlikely.

Suzie Bates: “This whole tournament we’ve understood that every game was going to be a big match, and having the rain-affected match has made that even more important. Every game is almost a knock-out game so we have to bring our A game and play as well as we can against any opposition.”

Sana Mir: “The bowling unit is improving with every game. It’s only about clicking at the right time. We have the belief in ourselves, it’s only that we have to execute it tomorrow. More than qualification, we’re looking to play to our potential. It’s important that we do justice to ourselves. If we do that, the results will follow.”

New Zealand: Suzie Bates (capt), Erin Bermingham, Sophie Devine, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Katey Martin, Thamsyn Newton, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest (wk), Hannah Rowe, Amy Satterthwaite, Lea Tahuhu.

Pakistan: Sana Mir (capt), Ayesha Zafar, Bibi Nahida Khan, Marina Iqbal, Iram Javed, Javeria Khan, Syeda Nain Fatima Abidi, Sidra Nawaz (wk), Kainat Imtiaz, Asmavia Iqbal, Diana Baig, Waheeda Akhtar, Nashra Sandhu, Ghulam Fatima, Sadia Yousuf.

With inputs from Karunya Keshav at Taunton