A host of problems for holders

The 33-year-old opener has been an essential feature over the last five World Cups for her team. Importantly, England have always had a middle-order experienced and skilled enough to make the most of the solid platforms their talisman has provided. The likes of Claire Taylor and Caroline Atkins —the duo who top-scored incidentally when the two teams last met in a World Cup encounter four years ago—though have moved on in the last couple of years. And with the highly-rated Sarah Taylor out with injury, the English can no longer boast of possessing intimidating depth in their batting line-up. If anything, their middle-order seems more brittle than ever before. And with the Indian bowlers having displayed excellent form in their opening match, the pressure will be right on the likes of Greenway and Arran Brindle to lift their game and provide more support to their prolific captain.

On Saturday, the Indian captain was also quick to note that her opponents' bowling responsibilities too were centred far too much on the shoulders of pacer Katherine Brunt, which certainly was the case against the Lankans. And seeing the disdain with which the likes of Thirush Kamini and Poonam Raut treated the West Indian spinners, including the fancied Anisa Mohammed, Holly Colvin and Danielle Hazell are set to face a stringent test.

But speaking of top-heavy batting line-ups, India's middle-order too remains largely untested form-wise with the openers having done most of the damage, including in the two practice fixtures. At the most, Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur have been called in to bolster the run-rate and are yet to spend extensive time at the crease.

So while Edwards' stay at the crease could well be the deciding factor when England come out to bat, Brunt & Co too will be aware that dismissing the Indian openers cheaply could open an unforeseen Pandora's box in what is the most highly-anticipated encounter of the World Cup so far.

... contd.

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