Worcester: An under-fire Indian women’s team would be desperate to prevent England from achieving a clean 3-0 sweep of the ODI series when the two sides face here Saturday. They would also want Harmanpreet Kaur to strike some form with the bat. Much depends on the batting of Harmanpreet Kaur. But so far during the series he has not been able to give the team much impetus.
The Mithali Raj-led team have lost six out of the last seven ODIs. Prior to this series they were thrashed by the South African women on home soil.
The bowlers performed well in the second ODI with a much-improved performance. However, the batting has left the team down yet again with skipper Mithali left to do all the heavy lifting, which is also affecting her game. One of the primary issues that have been overlooked over the past four years has been Harmanpreet’s shoddy performance.
Harmanpreet, whose epic 171 against Australia in the 2017 World Cup, became a seminal moment for the women’s game in India, has since gone off the boil.
In 28 WODI matches (in which she didn’t get to bat six times) since the 2017 World Cup final against England, the Indian vice-captain has scored only two fifties and two scores over 40. It has affected the overall performance of the team.
Mithali and the likes of Jemimah Rodrigues, Punam Raut, Deepti Sharma and Taniya Bhatia do not have the ability to play the power game. So a lot of pressure is being built on openers Smriti Mandhana and teen sensation Shafali Verma.
Mithali has scored back-to-back half centuries with her strike rate in the 60s. However, she had been left with no choice as in both games as the Indian batters have splurged on dot balls like millionaires.
In the first game itself, 181 dots were consumed against a bowling attack that has Katherine Brunt, Anya Shrubsole, Nat Sciver, Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone. They have been relentless with their tight lines and it was Jhulan Goswami’s cameo that helped India cross 220 in Taunton.
With wicket-keeper Bhatia not being the most reliable batter in the shorter format and Deepti unable to play the big shots towards the end, it might again depend on Mandhana and Shafali, who gave a half-century plus stand in the Test as well as the second WODI.
Indrani Roy, an exciting domestic talent, should have been tried out as an enforcer but Bhatia’s better keeping skills have earned her the team’s vote.
In the bowling department, both Goswami and leg-spinner Poonam Yadav were brilliant but the scoreboard pressure was always on India, who were at least 40 runs short on a good batting track.
With Tammy Beaumont and Sciver in good form, home team skipper Heather Knight would like to add insult to the injury as she is due for a big score against the Indian attack.