The Australia vs India series is already turning out to be quite the nail-biter with some good, quality cricket on display but can India turn things around in the 4th T20I?
Australia kickstarted the series with a bang registering a crucial win in the 1st T20I and India left no stone unturned as they staged a remarkable comeback in the 2nd T20I in a super over thriller and leveled the series 1-1. They also managed the break the 16 matches consecutive streak that Australia was riding on. In the 3rd T20I however, an indifferent batting performance meant India lost the game by a 21 runs margin and is currently trailing the series 1-2.
With the 4th T20I beckoning, here are some areas that India can certainly look into
#1 The opening duo has to make the most of the powerplay
Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Varma have been remarkable for Team India at the top. Having scored the bulk of runs, Mandhana has scored 108 runs at 36, striking at 133.33 and Shafali has raked up 107 runs at 35.66 at an impressive strike rate of 144.59 in this series. Scoring the most in the powerplay (overs 1-6) to assert their dominance should be the aim so it sets the platform for the other batters to come in and score freely. Negotiating the pace of Darcie Brown and Megan Schutt will be crucial for the openers.
#2 Jemimah Rodrigues has to find her form
Jemimah Rodrigues has been going through a lean patch and will be looking to get back to form in the do-or-die 4th T20I. Although she has got her starts hitting a few boundaries early on, she would want to carry forward the same way so as to help India chase or post a good total. When she is in form, she is almost unstoppable and with experience and a good cricketing brain, she just needs to back herself and give time to settle in without getting too rattled by the short balls barrage that the Aussies direct at her every time she is at the crease.
#3 Avoiding dot balls in the middle overs and supporting Harmanpreet Kaur in the middle order
“I know we are definitely missing a bowling coach but our bowlers are taking charge,”
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) December 15, 2022
This has not just been the pattern in the first two T20Is but in the 3rd T20I as well, the Indians batters played way too many dot balls. In the 3rd T20I for instance, India seemed to be on track as long as Shafali Verma and Harmanpreet remained in the middle as they put up a 73-run stand for the third wicket off 53 balls. India, however, disintegrated rather quickly after Nicola Carey ended that partnership. Dot balls further add to the pressure on the incoming batters and while chasing, the steep asking rates further worsen the situation. India should be looking to rotate the strike and take as many singles, and two runs and make use of the powerplay to score some crucial runs.
#4 Support Richa Ghosh and Shafali Varma giving them the confidence to express themselves
The next part of the series (the 4th T20I and the 5th T20I) will feature Shafali and Richa, according to Harmanpreet Kaur. The pair will join the U19 camp once the series concludes on December 20, she added. Considering they have been selected for the U19 World Cup, these games will serve as confidence boosters. While Richa has established herself as a strong finisher, Shafali has emerged as one of the most damaging openers in the game. The Indian squad would certainly wish to use their services for the important series, therefore and considering India is preparing for a game where victory is crucial, the duo is imperative to India’s prospects.
#5 The new ball duo has to find a way to dismiss the Aussie openers
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) December 14, 2022
With Beth Mooney and Ellyse Perry on fire, Australia’s batting has been remarkably effective. Mooney in particular has caused India a lot of agony and has undoubtedly been in prolific form. The southpaw is the top run-scorer and is excellently setting the groundwork for Australia. Renuka Singh Thakur, the leader of the pack will have to be on her A-game to dismiss the openers and Anjali Sarvani on the other end should ably support her to break the middle order away.
#6 India’s worrisome bowling
Having leaked 170 and scores of excess, Team India would be looking to improve and most importantly, restrict the dangerous Australian batting line-up. India failed to defend 172 in the first game, but in games two and three, giving up 187 and 172 respectively will be sticking like a thorn. India’s bowling performance hasn’t really been up to standard. They have allowed Australia’s batting lineup to dominate the three T20Is. Both the pacers and the spinners have struggled to consistently pick up wickets. India will be especially focused on their bowling performance in the fourth T20I. Considering Devika Vaidya has been effective with the ball and has scalped 3 wickets, India should use her more and she can support Deepti Sharma from the other end.
#7 Better fielding effort by India
Another area of concern for Team India has been the inability to field properly which is costing them crucial wickets and leaking runs at the boundary which is certainly not the way to go. They will have to be more attentive and prompt in their fielding. Subhadeep Ghosh, the current fielding coach for Team India will be looking to iron out these deficiencies. India could perhaps strengthen their fielding with the inclusion of Harleen Deol in place of Radha Yadav as it would add to the batting depth and give India an extra bowling option in case someone is having an off day.
#8 Capitalize and score runs off the part-timers
Annabel Sutherland (9.80), Nicola Carey (11.0) and Kim Garth (8.97) have been on the slightly expensive side with their economy rates soaring, so India should look to make the most when these bowlers are introduced into the attack. Even Megan Schutt (9.08) and Alana King (8.62) have not been effective so India should look to attack them and not succumb to pressure.
I am a first year postgraduate student pursuing a MA in Media and Communication Studies at Christ University, Bengaluru. I am a podcaster, blogger and an avid cricket fan. When not glued to cricket matches, you can find me submerged in books and thinking about cricket all the time.