In India’s 62-run defeat against New Zealand in their second match at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, there were some evident issues with both the batting and bowling line-up of the Mithali Raj-led side.
However, in the post-match presentation, the captain provided an assessment of the loss indicating that the batting line-up needs to take more responsibility and the top-order in particular needs to score at a good run-rate to ensure the scoreboards keeps ticking.
She said, “I think after those early wickets, they got a good partnership going and it seemed like 280 would be on the cards. But we did well to pull things back at the end. It was a chaseable score, provided the top order managed the run rate properly.”
“We needed one of the batters to bat deep. There was a lot of extra bounce under lights, nothing unplayable but we could have done better. The batting needs to get better. The bowlers have done well today, they did well last game too.”
India decided to rest Shafali Verma, who has been going through a lean patch with merely 96 runs to show in the recently concluded bilateral series against New Zealand and a duck to follow in the warm-up game against West Indies and the tournament opener against Pakistan.
Instead, they opened the batting with Smriti Mandhana (6 off 21) who was dismissed early in the innings by Lea Tahuhu and Yastika Bhatia, who was opening the innings after a good show at the top in the warm-up game against South Africa, being dismissed for 28 runs after a 58-ball stay.
Addressing the post-match press conference in Hamilton, India batting coach S S Das also seemed to agree with Raj’s assessment indicating that the inability to chase the 261-run target was largely because the top-order experiment did not come off.
“The top-order has to fire and we have the batting fire power to go deeper in the tournament. Once you get going in the first 10-15 overs, I think we can put up a good score on the board.
“If you see our top-order, it was an experienced top-order with Smriti batting at the top, we could get some runs but maybe we have to think about this decision in the next game.”
“I think the main part is also the strike rate, which has been a worry for us. We play West Indies in a day, so we will definitely come back stronger.”
Answering a question about going into the match with three left-handed batters in the top three, the coach disagreed that it was not a tactical weakness that left them them vulnerable to the New Zealand bowlers, who have now become well aware of the Indian batting style after the conclusion of the Twenty20 and One Day International series.
“I don’t think it was a tactical weakness. New Zealand bowled well in that phase. In the first 10-15 overs, they bowled well. They bowled tight lines. Obviously, we have to work on it. We have one day to go (for the match against West Indies).”
“Our focus is on (improving in) the first 10-15 overs. Like I said, we have the experience and the batting, we just have to express in the next game.”
On the decision to drop Shafali Verma after one innings in the World Cup, Das clarified that she was dropped after being provided a fair chance in the last seven to eight games, across the bilateral series and warm-up games.
“To get the runs, we needed to give her a break. She is a really talented batter. I hope in this break, she can get going and hopefully, will come back stronger in the few (remaining) games.”
White Ferns all-rounder Amelia Kerr, who scored 353 runs including three half-centuries and an unbeaten 119-run knock in the bilateral ODI series against India, scored another half-century today and picked up bowling figures 3/56.
Answering a question about what plans the team had in place for Kerr ahead of the match, the coach said, “We had some plans for her but the wicket was good to start with and she did bat well. Bowling wise, she has got variety and she did a great job for her team.”
“In the whole series against New Zealand, we picked up a few variations (of her bowling) during the matches, we saw a lot of videos. I think it is just a matter of picking the right line and right length. In the games we played against her, she bowled really well to our batters.”