BANGALORE - Ahead of their five-match One-Day International (ODI) cricket series against New Zealand, India women's skipper Mithali Raj on Friday said the hosts were ready to face a tough, well-drilled and talented visiting side. She also said that the home series was important as they attempt to improve their standing in the Women's Championship. The ODI series begins in Bangalore on Sunday.
Both teams will aim to boost their International Cricket Council (ICC) Women's Championship standings with the series win. India is currently at the bottom of the eight-team table with three points after six matches. New Zealand are a point and a place ahead of India after as many matches. A 3-0 series victory for the visitors would see them move to the joint third place alongside the West Indies, while a 2-1 win would see both sides move up; New Zealand into joint fourth with Pakistan (eighth points) and India ahead of sixth-placed Sri Lanka. India could rise to fourth place on nine points, above Pakistan, with a 3-0 win. The top four sides from this tournament will qualify automatically for the eight-team 2017 Women's World Cup, while the bottom four sides will play in the Women's World Cup Qualifier. "This series of games is vitally important as we bid to improve our standing in the Women's Championship, and we know that we will be facing a well-drilled and talented New Zealand side," Raj said. "Our preparation has been good and there's a positive feeling in the squad that we can turn around our form and get the win. If we can execute our game-plan and play a consistent brand of attacking cricket, then we are confident that we can cause the White Ferns (nickname of New Zealand women cricket team) some problems," she said. New Zealand captain Suzie Bates said: "We're really excited to be playing in India, and with it being a home series for them; they will be tough especially in their own conditions. Last year we learned from going over to the West Indies after our winter and not having as much preparation as we would have liked."