After having a 2-1 series win over New Zealand, India are all set to face England for a three-match ODI series. 

As the ICC Women’s Championship (2017-20) is going on and the series against White Ferns is done and dusted, now it’s time for India to take on England on India’s home soil. The series will begin from February 22 in Mumbai. This series is equally important for both the teams. India is currently in the fourth position in the points table with 12 points while England at the seventh place with 10 points.

Prior to the series against England, here are the 5 players who should watch out for:

1. Smriti Mandhana

Image source – ICC Cricket

The most important player in the India team right now is none other than Smriti Mandhana. The classy left-hander has been in the top form for the last two years. From becoming the ‘Player of the Series’ in the ODI series against New Zealand to become the No. 1 batter in the ‘ICC ODI Batting Ranking’, Mandhana is smashing every record.

Mandhana scored 196 runs in 3 matches including a century and an unbeaten 90 in the recently concluded series against New Zealand and she is improving day by day. Her maiden Super League ended on a high note with the score of 421 in 9 innings with the strike rate of 174.69. Her strike-rate of 174.69 is better than anyone else’s strike-rate by far in the KIA Super League and Women’s Big Bash League.

She now holds the record of scoring the fastest fifty in T20 to her name. She slammed a 61-ball 102 in the recently concluded Super League and became the second India player to score a century in T20 after Mithali Raj. She has scored two centuries and eight half-centuries in 15 matches since the beginning of the last year, 2018.

Mandhana also became the first Indian as well as the second woman cricketer to score centuries in South Africa-England-New Zealand-Australia. She has the ability to score plenty of runs in the powerplay and currently leading the batting chart of ICC Women’s Championship with 684 runs in 12 matches. Her devastating form will help her side to score big as well as to chase in the tournament.

Also Read: Mandhana tops in ICC ODI Ranking

2. Jemimah Rodrigues

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Another player who can play a pivotal role for India is the youngster Jemimah Rodrigues. She came into limelight when she smashed a double century (202 off 163 balls) in the U-19 match against Saurashtra. She made her debut during the South Africa series in the shortest format of the game in 2018 and played her first ODI match against Australia last year.

From the last one year, she has been consistent with the bat. She has played 7 ODIs and 22 T20Is so far and has 731 International runs in her name. Currently, the ranked no. 2 in the ICC T20I Batting Ranking, Rodrigues has the ability to become one of the key batters for India and she can pose a great threat to the opponents as well.

3. Sarah Taylor

Image Source – Sussex Cricket

England’s wicketkeeper-batter Sarah Taylor has returned to the squad after having played an ODI nearly seven months ago against New Zealand at Derby. She had missed the ICC World T20 last year for her anxiety issues. She has appeared in 118 ODIs so far and she has scored 3945 runs.

Moreover, no one can forget her lightening quick glove-work behind the stumps. She is one of the great hurdles for the opponents in the way of victory. Earlier, she had missed the World T20 in 2016 and was on a break but returned to the game during the ICC Women’s World Cup in 2017. She plays an important role in her side’s win over India in the scintillating tournament.

However, the upcoming ODI series will be her first 50-over series in India since the ICC Women’s World Cup in 2013 and her inclusion surely help England in their win.

4. Heather Knight

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England captain Heather Knight is the other player who can give a tough fight to the opponent. Though her journey in the national squad had started as a replacement of injured Sarah Taylor during their tour to India in 2010. She got the chance in the 5th One Day International match on March 1 in Mumbai and scored 49 on her debut. She is also the first woman cricketer to score a fifty and to take a five-wicket haul in an ODI inning.

She has been in a prolific form for the last couple of years. She scored 374 runs in 13 matches in the fourth edition of Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL). She had a rather impressive tournament in the KIA Super League, last year; where she had amassed 368 runs in 13 innings with a strike rate of 133.82 and became the second highest run-getter only after Smriti Mandhana.

Recently she scored an unbeaten 64 and guided her side to a 2-wicket win over Board President’s XI in the warm-up game. Ever since she got the captaincy, she leads with an example. Having more than 3,000 runs and 63 wickets in 145 International matches, she can upset any of the opponents with ease.

5. Poonam Yadav

Image Source – Times of India

Right now, one of the most dependable bowlers of India is undoubtedly the leg-spinner Poonam Yadav. The leg break bowler has been in a wonderful form throughout the year. She was the highest wicket-taker in the recently concluded series against White Ferns; where she bagged six wickets in three One Day Internationals.

She scalped 20 wickets in 12 ICC Women’s Championship (2017*20) matches including a 4-fer and currently placed at the third position only after Sana Mir and Leigh Kasperek. She is currently in her career-best ICC ranking of no. 2 in the shortest format of the game and placed at 9th in the ODI bowling list.

Her googly can trouble any batter and she can take wickets at any crucial moment. She has her best bowling figure in ODI against Sri Lanka (4/13) and in T20I against Bangladesh (4/9). Captain’s go-to bowler, Poonam Yadav can play a major role in India’s win.

Though England beat India many a time, India have never lost a bilateral series in their home soil. It will be interesting to see whether Heather Knight and Co. can break India’s record or India will keep their winning streak intact over England.

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