India look for winning start

New Zealand pose tough challenge for hosts

India look for winning start
A determined Indian women's team will have a lot to prove when they take on New Zealand in the first of the five one-day internationals here at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Sunday.

With a nice blend of youth and experience, the Mithali Raj-led side will return to ODI cricket after a gap of six months and will have their task cut out against a confident Kiwi team, led by veteran all-rounder Suzie Bates.

"The series is very important to us. We need to get back to our winning ways in ODI cricket to take the game forward. Off-field developments such as the BCCI deciding to introduce contract system to women's cricketers have been very encouraging. It is time for us to prove our potential," said Mithali on the eve of the first ODI.

Last time India eves played an ODI series in Bengaluru, they were edged 1-2 in the three-match series by South Africa. The batting performance from the Indian women in the series turned out to be a disappointing affair with Shikha Pandey being the only batswoman to manage a half-century. The opening pair of Smrithi Mandhana and the experienced Poonam Raut failed to give their side a good start against the Proteas and India would want a solid show from them upfront. 

All-rounder Harmanpreet Kaur, young sensations Veda Krishnamurthy and Shikha made a mark in the inaugural Women's Challenger Trophy and they would want to carry their good show into the series to push New Zealand to the wall early on.

The bowling unit, led by veteran Jhulan Goswami, faces a stiff challenge from the likes of Ammy Satterthwaite, Leigh Kasperek and Bates. 

New Zealand too are coming in to this series after a 2-3 debacle against England in February this year. But captain Bates feels her side is up for a spirited performance and will give their best against India. "It is a challenge playing against different teams in different conditions. I am impressed by our preparations so far. The senior members of the team know their roles and we have some very young talents.

“Kasperek was brilliant in the warm-up game with her all-round skills and we expect her to trouble the Indians, said Bates.

On a sunny morning, a true surface awaits both the teams in what seems to be an interesting duel.

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