England has had the better of the exchanges in T20s
There is to this sprawling city in the northeast an old world charm. The weather is rather pleasant, too, with the winter refusing to give way to summer, yet.
The setting for the three-match Women’s T20 International series between England and India, which begins at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium on Monday, couldn’t have been more ideal. The Assam Cricket Association’s decision to allow free entry to the ground is expected to make the atmosphere more festive.
The spectators can also hope to watch some quality action over the next week. For, displaying their skills would be some of the most talented women in international cricket.
For those who haven’t established themselves in their sides, the series offers an excellent opportunity to make an impression and stake claim to be on a bigger stage — the Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia, which is only 11 months away.
The teams had come face to face in the last edition in the Caribbean, in the semifinal. England won that match last November at North Sound, Antigua, quite comfortably.
Before that, the two sides had squared off in Mumbai during a tri-series. England was the winner then, too, with Dannielle Wyatt hammering an astonishing 124 off 64 balls to help her team chase down a World-record target.
India’s record against England in the shortest format of the game is hardly flattering. In the 14 matches between the two sides, it has won only three.
So a chance for a payback beckons.
How Smriti Mandhana, one of the most elegant batswomen you would find in world cricket at the moment, skippers India will certainly be keenly followed. She is leading the side in the absence of the injured Harmanpreet Kaur, whose big hits will be missed.
India still possesses a strong batting line-up, which includes the likes of Mithali Raj — there has been some speculation about the possible retirement of the former captain from this format — and the prodigious Jemimah Rodrigues.
Seamer Shikha Pandey and spinners Ekta Bisht and Poonam Yadav are expected to continue the form they showed in the three-match ODI series in Mumbai, which India won 2-1.
They would be particularly keen to scalp in-form Natalie Sciver, captain Heather Knight and Wyatt.
In Katherine Brunt, Georgia Elwiss and Anya Shrubsole, England has a good seam attack, but the injury to left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone is a setback.
The teams (from):
India: Smriti Mandhana (Capt.), Mithali Raj, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia, Bharti Fulmali, Anuja Patil, Shikha Pandey, Komal Zanzad, Arundhati Reddy, Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bisht, Radha Yadav, Veda Krishnamurty and Harleen Deol.
England: Heather Knight (Capt.), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Sophia Dunkley Brown, Freya Davies, Georgia Elwiss, Amy Ellen Jones, Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Linsey Smith, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt and Alex Hartley.