Indian women eye on-field success against New Zealand after end of off-field drama

The Indian women’s cricket team will aim to put behind the off-field furores and bring the focus back on the game when it clashes with New Zealand in a three-match ODI series starting Thursday.
India captain Mithali Raj will look to lead from the front
India captain Mithali Raj will look to lead from the front

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The Indian women’s team was at the centre of a huge controversy after its semi-final exit in the T20 World Cup in the West Indies owing to a bitter public spat between ODI captain Mithali Raj and the then coach Ramesh Powar.
Mithali had accused Powar, whose interim tenure ended last year, of bias after she was dropped from the lost semifinal against England. She also accused Committee of Administrators’ member Daina Edulji of trying to finish her career when the former captain backed her omission.
Following the fiasco, WV Raman replaced Powar and this will be his first assignment at the helm. Mithali also had a fallout with T20 skipper and star batter Harmanpreet Kaur but asserted on the eve of the series that she has moved on from all the drama and is focussed on the task at hand.
The side would be aiming to improve its fifth position in the ICC championship table through this series, which is part of the world body’s women’s championship and will determine qualifiers for the 2021 World Cup. India lost the home leg of the ICC Women’s Championship series 2-1 to New Zealand during the last cycle that ran from 2014-2016.
However, the team has enough firepower in stylish opener Smriti Mandhana, who has already scored 488 runs in the championship.
“These matches are very going to be very important for us. India are presently at number five on the points table, so it is very important from that perspective that we gain as many points from this ODI series,” Mithali said.
“Beating New Zealand in the World Cup and the World T20, it definitely gives us a psychological advantage, but again, we are playing in different conditions, we are playing in their backyard, so it is important that the team acclimatize to the conditions,” she added.
New Zealand is presently in second position on the table with 12 points from nine matches while India is fifth with eight points.

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