Where did India go wrong in 1st ODI? Should Mithali Raj bat at no.3? Priya Punia or Jemimah Rodrigues for 2nd ODI?

India’s slow scoring rate has been a point of discussion in the recent past and after the comprehensive eight-wicket loss to England in the first ODI at Bristol on Sunday, fuel was added to the discourse that has been on fire. India crawled to 201-8 in 50 overs, with eight out of 10 batters scoring at a strike rate of under 70. India had a dot ball percentage of close to 60% (181 dot balls) and they played out five maiden overs, a criminal act by all means in the limited-overs format.

 

Mithali Raj in action at 1st ODI vs England. PC: Twitter
Mithali Raj in action at 1st ODI vs England. PC: Twitter

 

After the fall of their attacking opening pair of Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana, it was as if Mithali Raj and co. put their foot on the brake and refused to score freely. The aforementioned dot ball statistic clearly shows the lack of intent exhibited by the Indian batters. There was neither frequent strike rotation nor the intent to hit big. India hit only 20 boundaries in 50 overs, while England smashed 26 boundaries and two sixes in 34.5 overs.

 

England Bowlers were outstanding in 1st ODI vs India. PC: Twitter
England Bowlers were outstanding in 1st ODI vs India. PC: Twitter

 

While over the last 22 years, it is a known fact that Mithali Raj is like a glue that holds India’s batting together, the question is, do we need more than one glue in the team? The answer is a definite No. So what are the options that India has in their armory who can score big as well as fast and allow Mithali to play the way she has over the last two decades? The batting positions 5, 6, and 7 are more or less sorted but the hanging question is about the number 3.

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31-year-old Punam Raut currently dons that position but there is no taking away the fact that she faces competition from 20-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues and 24-year-old Priya Punia. Comparing the three, it is clear that Raut is the most experienced in the lot as she has played 17 ODIs batting at number 3, while Rodrigues has played one and Punia none at that number. Rodrigues and Punia have been predominantly opening the batting for India. While Rodrigues is better at strike rotation which is evident from her healthy strike rate, Punia is more consistent as she averages better. Raut on the other hand averages better than both but her strike rate is less than Rodrigues. For analysis’ sake, adding Mithali Raj to the mix, she has the highest average and second-best strike rate among the four.

 

  Punam Raut (batting at #3) Mithali Raj (batting at #3) Priya Punia (as opener) Jemimah Rodrigues (as opener)
ODIs played 17 98 7 18
Runs scored 610 3744 225 381
Balls faced 1003 5616 381 529
Average 40.66 52.73 37.50 22.41
Strike rate 60.81 66.66 59.05 72.02
4s 65 404 26 50
6s 1 7 1

 

Priya Punia has not yet played at #3 position and Jemimah Rodrigues has played just 1 match at #3 position

So, should Mithali come in at number 3 or should India give a chance to a youngster? Can Rodrigues bat at three and keep the momentum going after India loses one of its attacking openers? Can Punia replace Raut at number three? Can Raut show some more intent and establish her place at number three? The think tank needs to sort out the number three issue soon as the ICC World Cup is just nine months away.

Since 2017, India has made it to two out of three ICC finals; 50 over World Cup final in 2017 and T20 World Cup final in 2020, however, both ending in a losing cause. Though reaching two finals since 2017 to some extent is a positive for Indian women’s cricket, there has been one issue that has plagued the Women in Blue and that is their batting. Batting first, India has scored just 207 runs in the ODIs since 2017, which is the fourth-lowest among the top eight cricket-playing nations. Australia sits comfortably at the top with 289 runs, followed by England at 248 runs and West Indies at 209 runs. India, along with New Zealand ranks fourth in the list.

Average score batting first in W-ODI’S since 2017 WC :

🇦🇺 289 runs.
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 248 runs.
🌴 209 runs
🇮🇳 207 runs.
🇳🇿 207 runs.
🇿🇦 204 runs.
🇵🇰 192 runs.
🇱🇰 156 runs.

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