India will have their task cut out on Thursday when they face an Australia side on the ascendancy in a must-win second game of the three-match series in Vadodara, which is part of the ICC Women’s ODI Championship.
The hosts were given a rude shock in the series opener where Australia romped to an eight-wicket win with almost 18 overs to spare. The Indian batters will have to do a lot better than what they managed against the Australian spinners on Monday, who shared eights wickets between them. The bowlers were unable to defend a modest 201-run target and they were let down by not just the batting but also the fielding.
If it weren’t for the 76-run eighth wicket stand between Sushma Verma and Pooja Vastrakar, the home team could have faced a bigger defeat.
Captain Mithali Raj’s absence also hurt India who would be hoping to have her fit for the crunch game on Thursday.
“You can’t expect the lower-order to put up a competitive total. Our senior batters need to step up. Our fielding also needs improvement and we need to bowl according to the field,” stand-in captain Harmanpreet Kaur had said after the loss.
The experienced opening combination of Smriti Mandhana and Poonam Raut will have to ensure a solid start to the innings. 17-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues could not do much on her ODI debut and it remains to be seen if she keeps her place after Mithali’s expected return.
The bowlers too need to up their game as they were not able to pose any sort of threat to the Australians, who raced to the target with ease.
Opener Nicole Bolton was in sublime touch, hitting an unbeaten 100. She would be looking forward to continuing her good form while her partner Alyssa Healy would not want to throw away a promising start again.
On her return to international cricket after seven months, captain Meg Lanning too was amongst runs before she ran herself out.
Nonetheless, it was a dominating performance from Australia who had lost to India in the World Cup semifinals.
“It’s a great start to the series. I am happy to be back on the field. We wanted to be aggressive with the bat and Nicole Bolton led the way for us. Our consistency with the ball and on the field is probably something we can improve,” Lanning said going into the second ODI.
India: Mithali Raj (captain), Harmanpreet Kaur (vc), Smriti Mandhana, Veda Krishnamurthy, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Sushma Verma, Ekta Bist, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Deepti Sharma, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Mona Meshram, Poonam Yadav, Sukanya Parida
Australia: Meg Lanning (captain), Alyssa Healy, Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ellyse Perry, Elyse Velani, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachel Haynes, Jess Jonassen, Sophie Molineux, Megan Schutt, Beh Mooney, Belinda Vakarewa, Amanda Jade-Wellington.