India head coach Ramesh Powar pointed out the improvements of the batting unit since the tour of England and was confident that the bowlers will come hard at the World Cup, citing rustiness as a factor in the team’s defeats so far on the tour of New Zealand.

The ongoing India tour of World Cup hosts New Zealand, which comprises one T20i match and five ODIs was meant to be a preparation for both sides ahead of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, which begins next month.

While New Zealand is riding high after winning the solitary T20I and now clinching the ODI series 3-0 with a three-wicket victory over the visitors in the third ODI, India has to stage a comeback to gain confidence heading into the main competition.

New Zealand will want to strengthen their bowling in the last two games of the series after chasing two huge scores so far, while India will have a task on their hand in those games to fix their weaknesses.

India head coach Ramesh Powar addressed a virtual press conference after the defeat in the third ODI at Queenstown and spoke about the team’s performances. Here’s what he had to say:

On India missing chances to win the game when they were in control at some stages and what are the conversations about this series:

When we assess these ODIs and one T20I, we had only three days of practice sessions. I have to give it to the players. On such less time, you can’t get into a competitive series like New Zealand. There will be some rustiness. Going forward, we are trying to address in bowling, the middle overs where we can pick up wickets. There have been a couple of 100-run partnerships in ODIs so we are trying to break that. The players have tried their best, with limited practice and Covid situations, quarantines... we are on the right track. Batting has clicked, we have discussed a lot of things. From England where we are now, we have scored 280, 270... in Australia too we scored well. Batting unit is doing their job. Now, bowling unit to get into a rhythm. The bowlers will come back hard when the World Cup starts.

Before departing for New Zealand, you had said that it was upto Harmanpreet to carry the form forward from WBBL. How are you addressing her batting?

I will stick to my statement, it is upto Harman to get back into form. It’s the player’s mind which works in the pressure situations. We can create those in nets otherwise, it is upto that particular player to come out of that zone and do well.

Why Smriti Mandhana didn’t play and what kept Richa Ghosh out?

There are few things we are trying to address, we are trying to give match time to each and every player on the squad (out of 18) because you never know which player can come in. We wanted to give Taniya some game time, Richa has done well in her outings. And there is workload management also. We have missed our fast bowlers also, because of unavailability. As far as Smriti is concerned, she will be available from the next match. There are some MIQ rules of New Zealand which we have to follow. I can’t get into it because I actually don’t know. We have to follow certain guidelines, of the government and the board. After this game, Smriti and Meghna are both available. We can go ahead with the bowling attack which had done well in Australia. Three seamers.

About fielding. There is evidently a lot of hard work going into sessions, as per the players. But sometimes it is not reflecting on the field. How do you address that as a coaching unit?

You have to play under pressure. That is, after Australia, we didn’t play any game as a team. We came into straight into New Zealand. So when you want to address the issues about batting bowling or fielding, you need to play as a group before a series. Which didn’t happen. So eventually we are trying these things in this series, where we can put them under pressure and ask for few things. Which they did. There is inconsistency, that we agree. But there were lot of positives. If you see S Meghana’s fielding throughout the four games... see one odd game, best players will also drop catches. I am not going to blame anyone for that. Catching, we are looking at the effort and consistency as well. I don’t want to blame my players for not being consistent. It is being short of practice, short of match simulation, short of proper matches that is hurting us.

About six bowling options and the balance of the team.

That is what we are doing. The four games we have tried different bowling attacks, with the limitations of unavailability of fast bowlers. So we are trying to get everyone into the zone where they can bowl at anytime, be it powerplay or middle or death overs. We are trying a lot of combinations. And when you get into the World Cup, you can’t set a combination like we are going to go with six bowlers, five bowlers... every opponent is different. When you play Pakistan or Australia, the approach will be different. We are trying to create combinations with bowlers and allrounders. So we are trying to give all of them game time so that we can use them according to opponents.

When do you field a team that is close to the one we will see at the World Cup, with two ODIs left? Is the spinners’ form a concern over the last year or so?

Not really, we are not concerned about anything right now. I am of the opinion that our bowlers are bowling 10 overs, they are getting match time. They have a skillset, where the pressure comes, I think they will rise against it and do well in the World Cups, no concern at all. And for team combinations, you will have to wait and see. There is no final combination, we are trying few things here and we will use that in the World Cup, so you will have to be a little patient with us. You can see our combinations match by match.

The improvements in recent times of Deepti Sharma.

Thank you for appreciating her performance. A lot of work has gone into it. The captain’s talk with her, [batting coach] SS Das’ work on her batting, my work on her bowling and keeping a happy quotient in the dressing room makes a huge difference. We are trying to get match winners for different matches. Not looking at only Deepti, only Mithali, only Harman... we are trying to create matchwinners around the squad.