India head coach Ramesh Powar said the batting performance in the first 20 overs surprised him but he expects his team to bounce back after New Zealand defeated them by 62 runs in the ICC Women’s ODI World Cup on Thursday.

Speaking at a virtual press conference on Friday, Powar shared his views on what went wrong for India in the match and the batting order’s struggles.

“It was one of those days when things didn’t go our way and honestly I was also surprised by the way we batted in the first 20 overs,” said Powar.

“If you look back at the last six games we played against New Zealand, we were executing our plans well. I think it is the pressure of the World Cup but I don’t want to give any excuses. We’ve been to England and Australia in the last six months and came to NZ early, we got every practice opportunity which was needed. So it is time as a group to stand up and deliver.”

Asked about what conversation he had with the players after the defeat to New Zealand, Powar said he wasn’t looking to do anything different.

“It’s been a process for a while,” he said. “We’ve been improving as a batting unit, we used to struggle to get to 220. It is up to the individuals now. As I always say, it is the players who go out there and face that pressure and come out of it with their own skills and character.”

“We have messed up in first 20 overs, where I was expecting momentum and intent,” he later added.

Asked why the team opted for three left-handers at No 1, 2 and 3 at the top of the batting order, Powar said the team could look at it going forward.

“Honestly, Shafali was not in greatest of form when you see the last New Zealand series. We wanted to give her a break, and bring in Yastika who was consistent in the performances. I don’t think three left-handers in a row makes a difference in every match but going forward yes, we are going to look at it tactically. It gives an advantage to opponents to set up the plan easily and left-right batter combination allows us to get to a batting rhythm. Bowling at a left-right combination is kind of difficult for bowlers also, going forward we will try and address this,” the former India cricketer said.

Powar also said it’s been over analysed that three LHBs are batting together that he had to work with the squad that he has with him in New Zealand. But following up on the previous response, when asked what was the reason behind trying a new combination for the first time at the World Cup, he added:

“I have been handed over a squad of 15, where I have limitations of three openers. I will use what I have, so that is the first thing. And Yastika opens for her state, and when you come in to the World Cup, you use the squad available. Like, I can’t make Meghana play because she is not in the squad. So whatever is available, and what is given to me, I am just trying to make the best out of it. [About possible changes] I can’t tell you about that, you can see for yourself tomorrow.”

Asked about Harmanpreet’s Kaur good form recently, this is what coach Powar had to say:

“It will be biased to say if I’m happy or disappointed (by Harmanpreet’s form) because I’m a a coach and I have to look to reach out to players who are not in form. I’m happy if a player returns to form but I was never disappointed when she was out of form because I know what kind of a player she is. I coached her in 2018 so I know her capabilities, she can win you games singlehandedly. Moving forward, I expect her to be consistent. In fact, I expect everyone in the top five to be consistent. I want seniors to be putting their hand up – like Mithali, Smriti and Jhulan – and win us games singlehandedly. Their contributions in victories will rub off on the many inexperienced players in our squad. It’s not about me reacting to players’ forms. I’m trying to build players here who will win India the World Cup.”

At the end of the interaction, Powar reiterated that the batting combination will be looked at when asked if West Indies’ off-spin heavy bowling line-up will influence India’s plans:

“Not really [if selection will be influenced based on WI spinners]. If we have three left-armers against us, will be change the batting order? No. See I trust my batting unit. We will definitely look at it, you have left-hand batters in a row... too inexperienced barring Smriti, I agree with that. We will look at it, maybe we have taken a wrong call, we accept that, that is not a big deal. Moving forward, we need to address that.”

Mithali Raj-led India started their campaign with a win against Pakistan before going down to hosts New Zealand. They face West Indies in their next match on Saturday. Powar said that everyone is available for selection from his squad.

The press conference video is available here.

Also read:

World Cup: A left-field decision that did not go right for India against New Zealand

World Cup, New Zealand v India as it happened: Harmanpreet shines but NZ dominate in 62-run win

Analyse, learn and move ahead: Reactions to India’s World Cup defeat against New Zealand

World Cup: ‘The top-order has to fire,’ says India batting coach SS Das after big loss against NZ

World Cup: In defeat against New Zealand, Pooja Vastrakar shines bright as India’s rising star