It has been a smooth ride for the mighty Indian team so far and the trend is expected to continue when the sub-continent powerhouse aims to crush minnows Thailand one more time in the Women’s Asia Cup semifinal here on Thursday.
The last match between the two teams had turned out to be a huge mismatch as India had skittled Thailand out for just 37 runs in 15.1 overs to run away with an easy win during the league stage.
Thailand would look to do better than their previous batting effort against India after making the Asia Cup semi-final entry for the first time at the expense of hosts defending champions Bangladesh.
The Naruemol Chaiwai-led side would hope to prove that their qualification for the tournament was not a fluke.
For India, the tournament came as a perfect opportunity to test their bench strength and give their less-experienced players “enough game time” ahead of the next year’s T20 World Cup in South Africa.
As a result, India’s star skipper Harmanpreet Kaur played only three of their six league matches, and even dropped down to No. 7 against Pakistan in the only game they lost.
The team tried out the likes of T20 power-hitter Kiran Prabhu Navgire and Dayalan Hemalatha in search of a “finisher”.
While rookie Navgire, who smashed the fastest fifty in the Women’s T20 Challenge earlier in May, has managed just 10 runs from three innings, the more experienced Hemalatha has also failed to impress — 45 runs, four innings.
It remains to be seen if the team continues to experiment or play full strength to be ready for the title clash.
The spin troika of Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana and Rajeshwari Gayakwad easily kept most of the teams under check.
To make it a contest, the onus would be on their Thailand’s top three — Nannapat Koncharoenkai, Natthakan Chantham and skipper Chaiwai.
The trio has done bulk of the scoring for the team and a big test awaits them against a disciplined Indian attack.
The biggest positive for India has been Jemimah Rodrigues’ stunning form as she has shouldered the responsibility in the middle-order and is leading the run-charts with 188 runs with two half-centuries.
Having missed two earlier games, opener Shafali Verma too has returned to form with a bang as the Indian batters would look to gear up for the final with a strong performance.
The second semi-final will be played between Pakistan and Sri Lanka on Thursday.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Sabbineni Meghana, Richa Ghosh, Sneh Rana, Dayalan Hemalatha, Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Radha Yadav and KP Navgire.
Thailand: Naruemol Chaiwai (c), Nattaya Boochatham, Natthakan Chantham, Sunida Chaturongrattana, Onnicha Kamchomphu, Suwanan Khiaoto, Nannapat Koncharoenkai, Suleeporn Laomi, Banthida Leephatthana, Phannita Maya, Nanthita Boonsukham, Thipatcha Putthawong, Chanida Sutthiruang, Aphisara Suwanchonrathi and Sornnarin Tippoch.
Match starts 8.30 a.m. IST.