What are the changes Indian women’s team should make before Women’s T20 World Cup 2020

Winning and losing are part of sport, all that matters is how hard your team fought”

“This is a learning curve, we will get better.”

”At least we won the ODI series on foreign soil”.

These were some of the impressions that made the rounds on social media after the White Ferns swept the T20 series which left the Indian camp pondering over their selection, on-field and game plan decisions.

Different venues, different conditions, different team composition but the same old story was back to haunt the women in blue. Over dependence on the top order and the middle order crumbling under pressure flashed memories of the ICC WWC Final 2017. The Indian women somehow found a way to lose after getting into winning positions.

1st T20I: Chasing 160, India were cruising at 102/1 until the departure of southpaw Smriti Mandhana (58 off 34). The rest of the batters couldn’t pull off 58 runs off 8 overs and eventually fell short by 23 runs.

2nd T20I: It was Jemimah’s turn this time. The youngster did the bulk of the scoring accounting for 72 runs in the team’s total 135 followed by in-form batter, Mandhana who again made a brisk 36 making us wonder about the presence of any other batter.

3rd T20I: It was a Jemimah-Mandhana show again. The batters managed to amass 56 runs in the power play for the loss of Priya Punia. The departure of Jemimah made things tougher for the Indians. The equation read 39 off 27 deliveries with six wickets in hand. No surprises were in store as Mithali Raj and Deepti Sharma could manage to score only 36 runs off those 27 deliveries with 14 runs coming off the final over.

While the ODI team looks settled, the T20 series was a litmus test for both sides. With the Indian camp’s decision to look beyond veteran Mithali Raj citing strike rate issues, the dependence on the experienced duo of Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur doubled automatically. The middle order looked fragile for both sides barring the return of keeper-batter, Katey Martin for the White Ferns.

As the T20 series progressed, it was advantage New Zealand ,as they seemed to have got an edge over the middle order, while the Indian middle order was dangerously dependent on Harmanpreet Kaur alone. The likes of Deepti Sharma were provided with too few chances to express her batting prowess. The talented all-rounder who has a highest score of 188 in ODI’s was sent in to bat at the number 7/ 8 positions after Anuja Patil and Arundhati Reddy who clearly seemed to lack adequate batting temperament .

With veteran Mithali Raj replacing the injured Hemalatha Dayalan in the final T20I, she sternly reminded the Indian think-tank about her batting capabilities. Raj scored a brisk 24 off 20 deliveries with three boundaries to her credit in a losing cause. Her innings oozed with grace, composure ,common sense and seemed to be the missing piece in India’s woeful middle order puzzle. Experts rued that Raj had too few balls to face, “If I play Mithali, I would want her to open the innings.” opined Anil Kumble at a post match analysis talk show. Maybe Mithali Raj could stick around a little longer before she passes on the baton.

On the bowling front, the key takeaway was the performance of medium pacers Arundhati Reddy and Mansi Joshi. Their ability to take pace off the ball and chip in with wickets at regular intervals was commendable.

Poonam Yadav, the leading wicket taker in 2018 had a forgettable tour. With zero competition for her spot in the playing eleven, Yadav had become too predictable for the White Ferns. The smash sisters, Devine and Bates were toying around using her her lack of pace to their advantage. Anuja Patil was off target as well which badly hurt the Indian camp. Youngsters Radha Yadav and Deepti Sharma were impressive in parts. Surprisingly, the experienced campaigner,Ekta Bisht was left warming the bench for all three T20 games.

The T20I series may have unlocked many demons for team India. With the ICC WT20 next year, coach WV Raman and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur along with the selectors will been more than keen to get back to the drawing board and get their combination right for the T20 home series against England next month.

 

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