Women in India have a fresh start against Sri Lanka in 1st T20I

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Dambulla: India’s women’s cricket team is set to get a fresh start under a new skipper for all sizes Harmanpreet Kaur against Sri Lanka in the first T20 International of the three-game series, which starts here on Thursday.

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With the T20s ready for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and also the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in eight months’ time, India will aim to start their campaign at a high level.

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It will be the first international assignment for the Indian women since the disappointment at the women’s World Cup in 2022.

Notably, the Indian team will have to be without the legendary Mithali Raj for the first time, who hung up her boots earlier this month after an illustrious 23-year career.

On a personal level, Skipper Harmanpreet will be eyeing a milestone.

The 33-year old batter, who has amassed 2,319 runs from 121 games, needs an additional 46 runs to eclipse Mithali in the shortest format.

The spotlight will also be on vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet and coach Ramesh Powar, who recorded a seven-match winning streak in the last T20 World Cup before India was knocked out by South Africa in the semi-final.

Hosts Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will start the series on the back foot as they were recently whitewashed 0-3 by Pakistan in a T20 series.

However, the Indians will have to remain vigilant against Sri Lankan veterans Oshadi Ranasinghe and Chamari Athapaththu, among others.

The Indians last played a one-off game against New Zealand in shortest form in February of this year, losing by 18 points.

In the series, people like Mandhana, Shefali Verma, Deepti Sharma and pacemaker Pooja Vastrakar in their present form will give them sufficient confidence.

Judging by current form and world rankings, India will definitely start as a favorite against the island nation and the hosts will have to up their game by leaps and bounds to upset the Indians.

Indian captain Harmanpreet said fielding is an area they are putting more emphasis on in the series against Sri Lanka.

“As a team, there are quite a few areas that we are currently working on to improve, taking into account this particular series against Sri Lanka. Although our core strength is in hitting, we are making an extra effort to improve our field skills,” she said.

“All of our best hitters and bowlers are qualified for this series and we all expect to give our very best in this series,” Harmanpreet said at the pre-match press conference.

The three-game T20 series will be followed by an equal number of ODIs, scheduled to be played in Pallekele on July 1, 4 and 7.

Teams (of):

india: Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Simran Bahadur, Yastika Bhatia, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Richa Ghosh (WK), Sabbhineni Meghana, Meghna Singh, Poonam Yadav, Renuka Singh, Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharakar, Pooja Sharma, Radha Yadav.

Sri Lanka: Chamari Athapaththu (C), Nilakshi de Silva, Kavisha Dilhari, Vishmi Gunaratne, Ama Kanchana, Hansima Karunaratne, Achini Kulasuriya, Sugandika Kumari, Harshitha Madavi, Hasini Perera, Udeshika Prabodhani, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Malusha Sanathanaweera, Sayathana Rayath Ranaweera, Shehani, Tharika Sewwandi.

Match starts at 2 p.m.

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