Women’s World Cup final: It will not be easy for England, says Mithali Raj

India skipper Mithali Raj sounded a warning shot to England ahead of tomorrow’s summit clash in the ICC Women’s World Cup, saying the hosts should expect a tough contest from her ever-improving and gritty team. India defeated England by 35 runs in their opening match and the final will be a rematch to decide who lays their hands on the coveted World Cup trophy at Lord’s.

‘We are very excited’
“As a team we are all very excited to be part of the final. We knew that this tournament wasn’t going to be easy, but the way the girls have turned up at every situation when the team needed, whether it were the batters or bowlers,” Raj said yesterday.

“It definitely isn’t going to be easy for England. But it will come down to how we perform on that day. We really have to work on our planning and strategy because England have also peaked after being defeated by us in the first game. They have performed well in the run-up to the final, so playing the hosts in their own country is going to be a challenge. Having said that, this unit is up for it,” she said.

It was Harmanpreet Kaur’s sensational 115-ball unbeaten 171 that set up the 36-run win over Australia in the semi-final on Thursday and Raj described it as a huge achievement.

“Harman’s innings was exceptional. The bowlers have done really well. Jhulan has come back into her rhythm, Shikha also bowled well and the spinners have also done a good job,” she said. “After losing, we made a comeback against New Zealand and winning a semi-finals against Australia is a huge achievement.”

Talking about her team, Raj said: “We have players now who are of international standard. They are standing up in every game. We have a new woman of the match to stand up and perform for the team. We have seen Smriti playing one of the best innings against England. Then, Punam Raut scored against Australia, we also have Harmanpreet Kaur,” Raj

Can Kaur play final?
Kaur had suffered cramps during her sensational innings and when asked if she would be available for the summit clash, Raj said: “Well, I am sure she would want to be part of playing XI that is going to the World Cup final at Lord’s. All of us are raring to be part of that atmosphere and it is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to be part of the finals,” Raj said, reflecting on India’s first World Cup final appearance since 2005.


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