Mumbai: Untouched by the hype and hoopla that follows their male counterparts, India's women cricketers are all set to start their World Cup campaign when they take on the West Indies in a Group A match here tomorrow.
The day-night clash would set the ball rolling for the event, which will also be held in Cuttack where the Pakistan team (placed in Group B) is based due to security concerns in Mumbai.
Group A matches are to be held in Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium, MIG Club at Bandra and the Bandra-Kurla Complex ground of the Mumbai Cricket Association.
Group B matches, involving strong contenders Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan, would be held in two grounds in Cuttack.
The remaining Group fixtures for India, who finished third in the last championship, are against three-time winners (1973, 1993 and 2009) England at the Brabourne on February 3, and qualifiers Sri Lanka at the same ground on February 6.
Prior to that England will take on Sri Lanka on February 1 at the Brabourne.
Sri Lanka would lock horns with the West Indies side on February 4 at the MIG ground in Bandra while the
England-Windies clash on February 6 is scheduled at the BKC.
Apart from Mithali, India would bank on former captain Jhulan Goswami, diminutive batter Poonam Raut, wicketkeeper Sulakshana Naik. The bowling attack would be spearheaded by Gouher Sultana and Niranjana Nagarajan.
"We have senior players like Jhulan Goswami, Amita Sharma, vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who has been among runs. We have two comeback players (Murugesan) Thirush Kamini, Karuna Jain, who have played the last World Cup. I am hoping that with this kind of combination, we will do very well," said Indian captain Mithali Raj.
England, led by Charlotte Edwards who is playing her fifth successive World Cup, are tipped to top the group and commence their bid to win the crown for the fourth time with a game against Sri Lanka on February 1 at CCI.
The second and third place in the group would be a hard fought contest, with the West Indies a vastly improved side from four years ago.
If recent form is anything to go by, it will probably be Sri Lanka, led by Shashikala Siriwardena, who are expected to miss the Super Six stage, starting on February 8.
Sri Lanka won the right to compete in the tournament when it finished in the top four of the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifiers held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in November 2011.
The England squad features familiar faces, including captain Edwards, while there are eight players from the original winning squad of 2009 including the in-form ICC Women's Twenty20 Player of the Year 2012, Sarah Taylor, who will once again lead the side's batting line-up.
England captain Edwards requires a mere 61 more ODI runs to usurp Belinda Clark of Australia to become the most successful run-scorer in women's cricket. Clark's record of 4,844 ODI runs has stood since 2005.
England's bowling attack features the number one ODI bowler in the Reliance ICC Women's ODI Player Rankings, Katherine Brunt, who currently has 76 ODI scalps to her name, along with the talented slow left-armer Holly Colvin, who happened to also hit the winning runs in 2009 when the team defeated Australia in the final of the event.
West Indies feature a mixture of youth and experience, including the only twins in the event, Kycia and Kyshona Knight of Barbados. The side is led by Trinidadian Merissa Aguilleira while ICC Women's ODI Player of the Year 2012, Stafanie Taylor, is her deputy.
In-form spinner Anisa Mohammed will be the one to watch after the 24-year-old claimed 7-14 in the final of the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier in 2011 against Pakistan. She will be hoping the sub-continent conditions will suit her style of play.
Indian World Cup squad: Mithali Raj (captain), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), Ekta Bisht, Amita Dass,
Jhulan Goswami, Karuna Jain, Reema Malhotra, Mona Meshram, Thirushkamini Murugesan, Sulakshana Naik, Niranjan Nagarajan, Rasnara Parwin, Punam Raut, Shubh Lakshmi Sharma, Gouher Sultana.
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