World Cup winner Claire Taylor believes star duo Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami will need to be at their best if India are to make an impression at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup.
India skipper Raj boasts an average of 52.08 in one-day internationals, with only Australia captain Meg Lanning ahead of her in the ICC Women’s batting rankings. Veteran fast bowler Goswami made her India debut more than 15 years ago and is ranked third in the ODI standings.
But the pair have failed to consistently fire during major international tournaments and Taylor says that must change if India – who meet England in the tournament opener, live on on June 24 – are to lift the Women’s World Cup for the very first time.
Taylor told “The likes of Raj and Goswami have not been at their consistent best of late and they really need to step up at this World Cup and be the kind of lynchpins in the batting and bowling for the rest of the team to work around.
“They are India’s two most experienced players and in the 50-over game, Raj in particular, has more time to create an innings and be the anchor around which the younger and more explosive players can play.”
Goswami took her 181st scalp in the 50-over game last month as she passed legendary Australian bowler Cathryn Fitzpatrick to become the leading ODI wicket-taker in women’s cricket history
Taylor said: “She [Goswami] is a great athlete who stands absolutely head and shoulders above the rest of the squad.
“She has shown brilliant longevity in terms of her career after starting out playing for India pretty young and is very difficult to score against because she has the ability to put the ball on the seam time after time.
“That’s been her great strength over the years and as fast bowlers get older they don’t necessarily get slower, but they certainly become a lot cleverer.”
The same could also be said about fearsome England seamer Katherine Brunt who, according to Taylor, will likely benefit from the conditions at Derby for the tournament opener
Taylor said: “Historically, it has been difficult for India coming here and they haven’t always been able to take full advantage of the conditions.
“They’ve struggled to score big over here and the England bowlers, particularly [Anya] Shrubsole and Brunt should have an advantage.
“That said it has been pretty dry so potentially who knows, some of the pitches may be more like what they are used to in India and they always bring good spinners with them.”
Taylor was part of the England side that claimed an historic treble in 2009 when they won the ICC World Cup, the World T20 and the Ashes series in Australia.
She admits seeing England host a World Cup makes her wish she was still playing and praised organisers for ensuring matches during the tournament will be well attended.
Taylor added: “There is a part of me that wishes I was still playing because the World Cup is something you look forward to.
“It’s absolutely brilliant that the opening game in is sold out and with Derby, Leicester and Birmingham all having sizeable Indian populations it’s a great opportunity to get the Indian community more involved in women’s cricket.
“There has been a lot of marketing that has gone in and I think they [tournament organisers] have also done well with picking the right grounds – 10,000 people in those grounds will create such an amazing atmosphere as opposed to 10,000 people in some of the other grounds where people are a lot more spread out.
“Derby, Bristol and Taunton are all really good grounds from that perspective.”
Watch England’s 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup clash with India live on Sky Sports 2 on June 24.