India captain Harmanpreet Kaur attributed the team’s 21-run loss on Wednesday in Mumbai in the third T20 International against Australia to their inability to rotate strike. Harmanpreet claimed her team fancied their prospects of chasing down 173, but the Indians batters played too many dot balls, confining them to 151 for 7.

For as long as Shafali Verma and Harmanpreet were in the middle, India appeared to be on track as they stitched a 73-run partnership for the third wicket off 53 balls. However, after that partnership was broken by Nicola Carey, India folded rather quickly.

“Yes, definitely, getting them on 170-odd runs, we really thought we were in with a chance,” Harmanpreet said at the post-match presentation.

“Shafali or myself – one of us wanted to stay till the end, but we had to hit boundaries and sometimes you lose wickets when you play like that. We have a deep batting line-up now so it’s not like we have to keep thinking about someone playing till the end.”

Indian bowlers performed well during the powerplay and at the end but they did let the runs flow in the middle overs, allowing Ellyse Perry to capitalise and score a match-winning 47-ball 75. They finished strongly with the ball, allowing only 9 runs off the final two overs following Grace Harris’ brilliant knock, limiting the visitors to 172 but it did not prove to be enough.

The Indian captain during the post-match press conference said, “We missed Pooja. On wickets like these, you need a medium pacer. If you are bowling spin back-to-back then it’s very easy for the batters to settle. Her experience, death bowling were missed. We tried Meghna Singh in the first two games but unfortunately, it did not click. That’s why we wanted to go for experience this time in a left-arm spinner like Rajeshwari (Gayakwad).”

“We bowled well in the powerplay and how Renuka and Anjali were swinging the ball and bowling according to plan and not giving easy runs,” she added.

Talking about their approach during the chase, Harmanpreet said, “It’s not all about power-hitting. Even if we were to consider and analyse the last match, we were aiming to get 10-12 runs in the over. Today also we were getting boundaries but we played too many dot balls.”

Australia, the reigning T20 world champions were expected to provide the preparation India needed in the build up to the T20 World Cup in South Africa in February. Alyssa Healy and Co are 2-1 up in the five-match T20I series and India would be hoping to turn things around in the remaining two matches.

“Australia is a side that brings a lot of competition on the field and you always want to do well because when you do well against them, it will always give you a lot of confidence,” said Harmanpreet. “I think that’s the reason we always want to do well against them. All these games give us a lot of confidence. There were a lot of areas where we have done really well.”

She added: “For a few girls, it’s a new experience because they are playing against Australia for the first time. It’s a good opportunity for them to get used to this atmosphere.”

India play Australia in the fourth T20I at the Brabourne Stadium on Saturday.

Watch the press conference here.