India, Pakistan to meet in Women's World Cup encounter on Sunday
Mount Maunganui, March 5, 2022
Despite millions of fans watching on from either side of the border, both the India and Pakistan captains are treating their match-up in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 on Sunday as just another game.
For India’s Mithali Raj, the match is the chance to build momentum as India go for a first World Cup title.
She said: “I think as a team we are excited to get into the World Cup and starting our campaign tomorrow. It's the first game, we are not looking at it as it’s Pakistan we are playing against, we're looking at a team which has come prepared and we are equally prepared to put our best foot forward and we want to set a momentum going into the tournament, so that's how we look at our first game.
“Every time we play a World Cup, every game is very different - different locations, different conditions, different opponent.
“We've tried to give everybody a go in the warm-up game, so that everybody gets into the rhythm, they form the core players - and for tomorrow's game I think all of them have been watching the first opening game and everybody has their set plans.”
As Raj embarks on her sixth World Cup, a record for the women’s event, she shared her message for the Women in Blue.
“I think as a team, we need to get in with a clean slate, confident unit,” Raj explained. “And believe that we can always turn things around and play according to the situation. It's very important when you have a longer tournament - important to be present.
“Be aware on the ground and play according to the situation.”
Pakistan and India will meet in an ODI for the first time since the 2017 ICC Women's Cricket World Cup but for Pakistan skipper Bismah Maroof it will be nothing out of the ordinary.
She said: “We are well prepared and we had good practice sessions and good warm-up games and I think the things we haven't done well in the last year, we have spoken about. Whoever takes the pressure well and plays to their strength - that team will win. We're hoping for a good match tomorrow.”
Pakistan have built a settled bowling line-up, and if the batters can follow the bowlers’ example, Maroof believes Pakistan could record a famous victory.
“We haven’t lived up to the mark yet - we have spoken about that we haven’t scored much as the top order should, and we are hoping that in this World Cup as a batting unit, we can put up a good show,” she said.
“We have improved as a fast-bowling unit, especially Diana [Baig] and Fatima Sana have come far and I think we have gelled together.
“It's just that we have the right combination in our bowling that all the bowlers complement each other and it's just the batting.
“We're looking forward that if we can put up a good show in the batting, our bowling can do well.”
Only time will tell which side will come out on top, but despite what the two skippers say the hopes of two nations are pinned on a win for their side.