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Commonwealth Games 2022: India to meet mighty Australia as inaugural women’s T20I competition begins

Edgbaston is all set to script history once again! The ground that hosted the inaugural Women’s World Cup final in 1973 will stage the first-ever Women’s T20 competition at the Commonwealth Games.

The reigning T20 World Cup champions Australia and the 2020 finalists India will be the history makers as they clash in the sold-out women’s cricket curtain-raiser on Friday (July 29). The match begins at 3.30 pm IST.

As India gear up to meet the mighty Australia, women’s cricket will make a debut at the Commonwealth Games, but overall, the sport will make a comeback at the Commonwealth Games after 24 years, when a List A men’s 50-over tournament took place at the 1998 edition in Kuala Lumpur.

A lot has changed in the Indian camp since the 2020 ICC event. From the return of a sacked coach to the end of the towering presence of a batting legend, India are now in a transitional phase. In spite of being young, India’s eight out of 15 players were involved in the 2020 final, which saw a record 86,174 attendees.

When it comes to the group stage, it is India who have the upper hand over Australia. During the T20 World Cup 2020, India defeated Australia in their pool match, which put the eventual champions on the verge of getting eliminated in their own backyard.

But come Friday, India will have to rework on their plans as all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar, who tested positive for Covid-19, is still in isolation in Bengaluru. Vastrakar played a crucial role during India’s recent 50-over World Cup campaign. She is someone who offers fearless hitting in the lower order and provides early breakthroughs. Meanwhile, S. Meghana, who was also down with Covid, has joined the Indian group in Birmingham.

Although Vastrakar is yet to fly out to Birmingham, her idea of having a “killer attitude” is shaping the team for the Games. India captain Harmanpreet Kaur, in a pre-match press conference, said: “We still have a balanced side. We need to just shuffle our batting order and bowl intelligently. We can have a great competition. Right now, we are working on the killing attitude. Everyone’s talking about it and we are working on it. During the Sri Lanka tour, we had a team meeting, Pooja (Vastrakar) came up with this idea and said we have to play that way. It felt really nice to see players giving ideas.”

India squad at the CWG 2022: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, S. Meghana, Taniya Sapna Bhatia, Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur, Jemimah Rodrigues, Radha Yadav, Harleen Deol, Sneh Rana. Standbys: Richa Ghosh, Poonam Yadav, Simran Dil Bahadur.

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