After India’s eight-wicket loss in the first ODI against England and before the start of the second ODI, Female Cricket got in touch with Aarti Sankaran and Sharadha Sridharan. Aarti and Sharadha, both former Tamil Nadu players are now established cricket coaches in the state.
Thoughts on Team India’s slow batting
Batting first, India managed to score a modest 201 in 50 overs. Sharadha said, “Indian batting was submissive. I was surprised to see that because we all know that our batters are capable of scoring big and fast. In modern-day cricket, you have to score at least five runs per over to have a chance in the game. Australia and England have been doing it consistently. So I was disappointed to see our team not able to do so.”
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) June 29, 2021
Aarti added, “I think we don’t have the intent and approach that the other teams have while batting. We are still going with the traditional method of playing out overs. You are given powerplays and you have to make optimum use of it. It is not enough that just Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana go for it. The others also have to contribute. There can be one anchor in the team but unfortunately, we have more than one. The batters are looking to spend more time in the middle. Time is of the essence but it is important that you score more in that time you spend at the crease”.
Sharadha added further, “If you see England they were getting a boundary almost every over. India should also make good use of powerplay and try to score at least one boundary every over. Also, they can plan the batting powerplay effectively with Harmanpreet being around to make the most of the field restrictions in those overs.”
Is India over-reliant on Shafali Verma?
Shafali Verma, who made her ODI debut in the first game against England, in quick time has earned the reputation of being a hard-hitting batter. She is also the number one T20I batter in the world. Aarti said, “The first impression that I get about Shafali is that she believes in seeing the ball and hitting it, not to forget that she knows how to survive a good ball. However, I hope that there is not a lot of pressure put on her to always score big and fast so that the other batters can take their time to settle.”
Just like Shafali there is another attacking player in the Indian ranks and that is Harmanpreet Kaur.
Sharadha said, “Though Harman takes time to get in these days, she has the ability to cover up in the latter part of the innings. It is important for India that Harman hits form again because if the team has to get a big score they would want their big match player to fire.”
Punam Raut was the other Indian batter who was much talked about after that first ODI.
Aarti said, “I think the reason why she is being so defensive is that she is still trying to cement her place in the team. In such a case it is very difficult to play with a free state of mind. Maybe you have to tell Punam that you will play the next five games and give her the guarantee of her place in the team or you have to tell her that the team requires you to score at xyz rate, whichever option suits her the best should be exercised.”
Though Punam was the second-highest run-getter for India in the first ODI her place in the second ODI looks doubtful.
Sharadha said, “India can try Jemimah at number three. But I feel Punam has the ability to bat well. She should try to consistently score at a good pace because she is not someone who can consolidate in the later part of her innings. We all have seen her contributions in the 2017 World Cup and of course her performance in the final against England. It is just that the team management needs to talk to her and explain her role in the side. The other option at number three that we have is Mithali Raj. Her record at that position is the best in the team. So may be Mithali at number three and Jemimah at four.”
Thoughts on bringing Sneh Rana back to ODIs?
Sneh Rana, who had a wonderful Test match at the start of the series missed out on featuring in the playing XI for the first ODI. Aarti said, “I was surprised to not see her take the field in the first ODI. Her performance in the Test was wonderful. She is a proper middle-order bat. She can pace her innings well and with the ball, she can bowl those crucial overs. If we have her in the side, then I feel we can change the batting order in such a way that Mithali comes in at three, Harman at four, Deepti at five, and Sneh at six, followed by Taniya Bhatia and Pooja Vastrakar.”
In the second innings with the ball in hand, India managed to pick up just two wickets. Sharadha said, “Our bowlers were bowling well but they were giving one or two loose balls in an over which the English batters punished. Ekta Bisht who was one of the most expensive bowlers was guilty of bowling on the middle and leg. Not to forget that peach of a delivery to get Heather Knight out, but yes since she was playing after a long time, she was not able to hit the right line and length for the most part of her spell.”
There could be a chance that India may opt for Radha Yadav, who is a better fielder and batter than Bisht for the second ODI.
Aarti said, “I would still give Ekta one more chance with the kind of experience that she has. She sets herself some high standards. If she gets another chance I am sure she will do well. I would like to give an example of Poonam Yadav. Till the time she was picking up wickets, we were alright with her fielding lapses but from the time she is not picking up wickets, she has been found wanting. I agree that it was a fielding lapse from Ekta but I would give her another chance because she is a champion bowler. I think Radha Yadav will be coming in for the T20Is as she is preferred more in that format.”
With the ICC World Cup just eight months away, it will be interesting to see how India goes about with its approach. Sharadha said, “First and foremost it is important that we inculcate the habit of scoring more than 250. Second, we need to get our combinations right, whether we want to play three seamers and two spinners or the other way around. Next, given that the World Cup will be played in New Zealand, it will be important for the batters to score big as the grounds there are small and batting friendly. It will be interesting to see if we back our strengths or play according to the conditions.”
Meanwhile, the second ODI between India and England will be played on June 30 at Taunton. Aarti said, “Our team should go out with a mindset of play to win and not play to please. Express yourselves and showcase your talent will be my message to our team. Every member should contribute to the team’s ultimate goal of winning. If they are able to do so, then they will be able to emerge victorious.”