India pacer Shikha Pandey said on Friday it would be unfair to single out any one department for their ongoing struggles in England and the team need to get into a “better rhythm” as a unit to reverse the recent disappointments.
Having already lost the ODI series, India will be aiming to win the third match on Saturday to gain some momentum ahead of the T20 series. There are also two more points at stake, as the series is being played in the multi-format system across all three formats.
Barring skipper Mithali Raj and young opener Shafali Verma, the batters have struggled and have not posted enough runs for the bowlers to defend.
“I wouldn’t say batting is the main concern. I can give you a player’s perspective, when I get into a game, we think about all the three aspects of the game together, so if the batters cannot really get us runs, it is us as the bowlers, bowling unit, we need to fight hard and back the batters,” said Pandey ahead of the final ODI in Worcester.
“So, I wouldn’t say that just that one department of the game is lagging, it is probably, if we can get all the three (departments) together, and the day we have all the three departments of the game going well for us, we will be doing well.
“I would say together as a team we need to get into a better rhythm,” she added.
Pandey also had words of praise for head coach Ramesh Powar, who is back at the helm of affairs after a stint in 2018.
“Even after the second game, the talk in the dressing room was very positive. He has always said if we play to our potential, to what our strengths are, we can beat any team in the world. He has got full confidence in us and he backs us as a group. I mean, what else do we need? As a coach he has been very helpful in all three departments. He has backed us a lot.” she said.
Terming Harmanpreet Kaur and Smirti Mandhana as “world class players”, Pandey backed the two batters to come good in the third ODI.
“We all know how good batters they are. It is just one innings that they need to get under the belt and we are all backing them and I am sure in the next few games, or in the next game itself they both will be back and help the team to win the game,” she said.
While vice captain Harmanpreet has been inconsistent for a while, Smriti has not been able to convert her starts on this tour.
Another aspect that come under the scanner is India’s scoring rate in ODIs. The strike rates, especially of the middle-order, has been questioned even if on occasions most players don’t spend enough time in the middle to make a significant scoring contribution.
According to Pandey, the team members and support staff do speak about their scoring rate and are working on improving it.
“I mean, it is not that it is an alien concept, we still talk about it. I mean, at the very outset, if you actually go to see it is a stat, and it is something that we are working towards.
“We want to be still going ahead and playing fearless brand of cricket and we are working towards it and I am sure this is kind of a build-up to the World Cup next year and in the games ahead, we will have a positive attitude and we will look to score runs for the team to win,” she said.
After the big defeat in the first game, Indian bowlers kept the team in the game in the second ODI before the hosts got home safely.
“I think we did pretty well in all the three departments in the second game and we are catching up.
“Considering that it is a multi-format series, going ahead, if we win all the four games...we are not regauging ourselves against them, backing our strengths,” added the 32-year-old right-arm medium pacer.
“And we know as a team we are a very good team and when we play to our strengths and we have a good day, we know that we can beat any team in the world.”
‘Huge fan of Taniya’
One aspect of the bowling performance that stood out (for both teams, in fact, at Taunton) was the wicketkeeper standing up to the stumps for pacers. A sight not uncommon in the game, but Amy Jones and Taniya Bhatia did exceptionally well in that department to help the bowlers pin the batters on the crease. Asked about the ploy, Pandey was all praise for Bhatia, who has always been impressive with her glovework even if her batting has been criticised.
“Firstly, I am huge fan of Taniya,” Pandey said. “The kind of keeping, standing up to the stumps to medium pacers is not an easy job and the way she stood up to us, even with the new ball, is amazing. You can count on your fingers the number of keepers that can do that in international cricket. So, firstly, it’s commendable what she is doing for us.”
“It’s little things we noticed on the field that if the England batters are standing way too outside the crease and I’m the swing bowler, so my swing gets negated. There are pretty practical decisions being taken on the ground that we need to get them to play from the crease and that’s how Taniya comes in.
“I think the first wicket we got yesterday [Tammy Beaumont bowled by Jhulan Goswami], Taniya standing up to the stumps made a huge difference. So, firstly, Taniya is doing a great job for us and it’s just about responding to the situations on the field,” she explained.
According to Pandey, skipper Mithali Raj, who missed the second innings of the second ODI due to a neck pain, is doing fine.
“Mithali Di is all well and she is being assessed by the medical staff and further news on her will be given by the BCCI,” she said.
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