What learnings from ODI Series can India implement in One-off Day Night Pink Ball Test?

India finally broke Australia’s 26 match winning streak in ODI cricket on Sunday as the Women in Blue beat the champion side by two wickets. The match was a nail-biting thriller as it went all the way down to the last over, with India clinching a stellar win with just three balls to spare. Australia have won the ODI series 2-1, but both teams have everything to play for going ahead in the multi-format tournament with one-off Test and three match T20I series in the pipeline.

 

India Women vs Australia Women - Day Night Test
India Women vs Australia Women – Day Night Test

 

Female Cricket Live analyzed the third ODI between India and Australia that was played at Harrup Park, Mackay, with panelists Soniya Dabir, Aarti Sankaran, Sharadha Sridharan, and Harini Rana.

Thoughts on 3rd ODI between India and Australia Women’s Team

Soniya said, “It was a superb game of cricket. Apart from the fielding lapses, India bowled really well in the match. It was also a good performance by the batters as they chased down 265, which was a successful record chase for India.”

Just like the third ODI, the second ODI also went till the last over and Australia managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on the very last ball. These two ODIs have definitely done a world of good to women’s cricket in general. Harini said, “It was a phenomenal match. We all live for such moments to witness such exciting games. It also gives a glimpse of what India can do overseas. This ODI series has just set up the tone for the Women’s World Cup and what the people can get to see in women’s cricket.”

 

Indian Women's Cricket Team vs Australia. PC: Getty Images
Indian Women’s Cricket Team vs Australia. PC: Getty Images

Thoughts on Australia’s Beth Mooney, Tahlia McGrath

In the third ODI, batting first, Australia scored 264-9 in 50 overs. Aarti said, “Quite honestly, I didn’t think Australia would get to 264. India bowled really well and I thought they would restrict Australia to around 220. But thanks to Ashleigh Gardner and Tahlia McGrath, who helped Australia to get to that competitive score. It is unfortunate to see Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry out of form in this ODI series because when they are in the form it is a treat to watch them, from a fan’s perspective. Special mention to Beth Mooney. In the last ODI, she opened the batting and got a century. In the third ODI, she came in at number 5 and scored a half-century. This shows the kind of flexibility Australia enjoys with its batting. With respect to India’s bowling, they were spectacular. No loose balls were on offer and the scoring boundary was made difficult. The Indian bowlers stuck to the basics, bowled plenty of those back-of-length deliveries, not allowing Australians to score freely. It was great to watch Indian bowlers coming good in the third ODI.”

India’s poor fielding is a huge concern

While the bowling was exceptional by India, there were plenty of misfields and dropped catches. Sharadha said, “There were as many as eight dropped catches and some of them were actually sitters. Also, the poor ground fielding cost India atleast 20 runs. India could have very well restricted Australia to 240. India’s fielding needs to go to another level. For that more and more match practice is required. Also playing day-night games would help as we saw in the second ODI that the Indian fielders struggled when there was dew on the field. Given that the World Cup is just five months away, during which India will play teams like Australia and England, it is important for India to uplift their fielding.”

Impact of Spectators in the Match

The ODIs garnered a lot of crowd and it was a stellar spectacle to watch fans supporting India and Australia almost equally. Harini said, “It is often said that the crowd is the 12th man. There is no doubt that the players can feel the pressure when they are playing in front of large crowds. Perhaps Indian fielders may have succumbed to the pressure. This is when getting more exposure comes in handy. Indian players like Jemimah, Smriti, Shafali, Deepti, and Harmanpreet are getting some experience of playing in front of big crowds thanks to their participation in WBBL and the Hundred. But it is important that all the players in the team are exposed to the crowd pressure. With more exposure, I am sure they will be able to perform better on the big stage.”

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Thoughts on India’s top-order batters (Yastika Bhatia, Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana)

 

Richa Ghosh to play for Hobart Hurricanes in WBBL 2021
Richa Ghosh to play for Hobart Hurricanes in WBBL 2021

 

Chasing 265, India started off well, thanks to a 59-run opening partnership between Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana. After Mandhana departed, Yastika Bhatia joined forces with Verma as the duo put together 101 runs for the third wicket. Soniya said, “India’s top order played really well. They helped India to get to a commanding position. Though I was happy with their batting, I was surprised to see Shafali not scoring as freely as she usually does. She seemed to be over-cautious sometimes. It was a responsible knock by her but I felt she could have been more expressive, given that she has plenty of shots in her repertoire. It was unfortunate that Smriti got out early. She was looking good too. After Smriti when Yastika came in, she looked at ease. It did not feel that she was playing just her third ODI. She looked at ease. That 100 run partnership between Shafali and Yastika shows that the future of Indian cricket is in safe hands.”

Shafali’s poor running between the wickets

During the partnership between Shafali and Yastika, there was an instance when they took a single, and Shafali jumped while trying to save her from the ball. The ball hit the stumps but Shafali was inside the crease. However, if the ball had the stumps when she was in the air, she would have been ruled out. Sharadha said, “As per the law, if you are inside the crease but in the air and if the ball hits the stumps you are ruled out. Thankfully for Shafali, she was inside the crease first when the ball hit the stumps and after that she jumped. Shafali may have jumped to save herself from the ball that was coming her way. I am sure the team management would have had a word with her regarding this.”

Why did Mithali Raj struggle against Stella Cambell?

 

Mithali Raj is the leading run-scorer in Women's ODI Cricket
Mithali Raj is the leading run-scorer in Women’s ODI Cricket. PC: Getty Images

Mithali Raj came in at an unusual position of number five. She did not look comfortable at the crease and after scoring 16 off 28, she was sent packing by Annabel Sutherland. Aarti said, “Number 5 is not the position that Mithali is used to. She is used to playing the newish or semi-newish ball when she bats 3. When she came in to bat number 5, the ball had become soft and it was not coming on to the bat. It stopped holding and coming on to the bat. A top-order bat can bat anywhere is a myth. On the other hand, a middle-order bat can bat anywhere as they are used to the vagaries of the situation. Not to take away any credits from Stella Campbell who used her height and speed to good effect. She and Sutherland did not let Mithali score freely. Australians had a tight field for Mithali and they didn’t allow her to get those easy singles early in the innings. Maybe the dot balls got to her and she stepped out to Campbell to release pressure but it went in vain as she was clean bowled. Again, stepping out to a seamer is very uncanny of Mithali.”

Importance of Foreign Leagues like The Hundred and WBBL in shaping cricketers

 

Indian Pair Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma joins Sydney Thunder for WBBL
Indian Pair Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma joins Sydney Thunder for WBBL

 

Deepti Sharma (31) and Sneh Rana (30) played some useful knocks to take India closer to the target. Deepti has played WBBL and the Hundred, which could have helped her to score at a quick pace. Harini said, “It is critical for the players to get the kind of exposure that is on offer in foreign leagues. Just like in IPL, there are domestic players who get a chance to share the dressing room with foreign players and by sharing their thoughts and watching them practice helps the domestic players to be better at their game. It is great that some of our women players are getting opportunities to play in the foreign leagues, which have certainly helped them. Let us hope that just like Australia and England, we also have a women’s T20 league in India in the form of a women’s IPL, which will aid the players to take their game to a different level.”

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Rise of Australia’s Young Fast Bowlers like Stella Campbell, Annabel Sutherland, Darcie Brown

 

Darcie Brown in action during ODI series vs India. PC: ICC/Twitter
Darcie Brown in action during ODI series vs India. PC: ICC/Twitter

 

Australian bowlers did put up a good show, with the likes of debutant Stella Campbelle coming good. Annabel Sutherland was the pick of the bowlers as she scalped three wickets. Aarti said, “The Australian bowlers bowled really well. Stella Campbell did not look as if she was making her debut. She looked at ease. Despite not having the services of the senior players like Megan Schutt and Jess Jonassen and with Ellyse Perry not being in form, the young pace battery of Australia grabbed the opportunity with both hands and have made the most of it. The spinners like Sophie Molineux and Ashleigh Gardner have played an instrumental role in Australia’s success too.” Sharadha added, “The way Stella Campbell bowled was great. After being hit for a boundary, the 19-year old just decided to come round the wicket. She banged in short again and this time Yastika played the pull shot but it went into the safe hands of Molly Strano who was stationed at fine leg. It was a great catch by Strano and equally, great bowling move from Campbell.”

Australia’s Injury Concern Continues

 

Sophie Molineux injured herself with a sharp throw during 3rd ODI. PC: Twitter
Sophie Molineux injured herself with a sharp throw during 3rd ODI. PC: Twitter

During the match, Australia had some injury concerns with Sophie Molineux coming in to bowl the final few overs with a bandage on after being hit by a throw that awkwardly bounced to give her cuts around the upper lip. Rachael Haynes and Beth Mooney also left the field due to some niggles. Soniya said, “It was great to see Sophie Molineux back on the field with that bandage on. This shows her fighting spirit and it is evident that the Australians not only work on the physical aspect of the game but they also put in extra effort to work on the mental aspects. It would have been really painful for Molineux but her grit and determination pushed her to come back and bowl those crucial overs. With respect to Mooney and Haynes, I am sure it will be difficult for Australia to find replacements for these wonderful players if they are unfit going into the rest of the tournament.”

Key Takeaways from India vs Australia ODI Series

Though the fielding was not up to the mark by both teams in the third ODI, there were many takeaways not only from the match but also from the entire ODI series. Sharadha said, “It was refreshing to see India go past the 250-run mark in two out of the three ODIs, in the absence of Harmanpreet Kaur, who has been a vital cog in the middle order. Though there was Mithali Raj, she did not have major contributions in the series with the bat. Despite this, India’s young batters put up a solid show to score big. While Australia was basking in glory with their 26 straight wins in ODI cricket, there were talks that only two teams, either England or India could put an end to Australia’s winning streak. I am glad that India could do it.”

Team India’s One-off Day-Night Pink Ball Test

India and Australia will play one-off Test next. It is going to be a pink-ball Test. Harini said, “It is surely going to be a test for the Indian girls as they have not played a day-night Test. However, after the win in the third ODI, the Indian team will be confident and will look to carry the momentum with them into the Test. There is no doubt that we are going to witness another exciting contest.”

I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.

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