India women's tour of Australia
source: EspnCricinfo

India Women’s tour of Australia has had its own set of ups and downs, though both for the betterment towards India’s preparation for the 50-over World Cup next year. On the other hand, the closely-contended recent ODI series resulted in the end of Australia’s mesmerising winning streak as India decoded the the technique to weather the perfect storm.

India Women’s tour of Australia saw the visitors select one newcomer to the playing XI at the start of the series; Yastika Bhatia was the find and a reliable batter of that series. In the absence of Harmanpreet Kaur, Yastika was sent to bat at number three in the opener and the last match of the series, while Mithali’s position was being shuffled between three and five.

However, this only hurt India’s balance in the middle order. The calm leader whose watchwords are grace and consistency would still like to tick the right box in a crucial column: the scoring rate in ODIs.

An area that it’s time Mithali fixed?

But if there was one thing that hurt the visiting side during India Women’s tour of Australia, then it were the collapses of the top order and the team’s inabilities to forge meaningful partnerships. Though to her credit, Yastika built crucial partnerships and kept the runs flowing.

India’s top order in the form of Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Varma, as it turned out, would like to work on its consistency, while India’s lower-order came back strongly to post a competitive-if not necessarily- winning scores on the board.

But among the things that stood out during India women’s tour of Australia was the visitors had the upper hand in batting first in, at least, one of the three ODIs. While it had to defend a score of 274, it ought to be said in no uncertain terms that the fielding was a letdown. How?

When India could restrict the batters for a single, the fielders gave space for the Aussies to go for more runs in between wickets.

Not that Meg Lanning and her side ever complained.

Over to the positives, the visiting unit’s lower order has been consistent to bring in important runs in the death overs, though this was not a feature in the previous world cup. A clear area where the team worked out its flaws.

India has given continuous opportunities to the skiddy Pooja Vastrakar. She played her part well and picked four wickets in the series.

Wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh came in handy with the bat, but she must work on her keeping and fielding skills that leaked runs in the second ODI. Over to the bowling, where it did seem the team missed the passion and energy of Shikha Pandey, who’s so often and so beautifully played second fiddle to the iconic Jhulan Goswami whilst also leading the attack in the experienced campaigner’s absence.

But you couldn’t turn a blind eye to the fact that the bowling improved gradually; that was visible when Mithali’s girls came agonisingly close to winning the match but the substandard fielding handed Aussies their formidable 26th consecutive win in ODI’s.

Note the number. 26 consecutive wins.

The young Southern Stars squad consisting of all-rounders like Anabel Sutherland, Hanah Darlington and Stella Campbell did a decent job with the ball continuing their domestic season’s dominant form.

Aussies’ batting stood solely on the shoulders of Beth Mooney, the inimitable hero of the World T20, 2020 campaign. The dogged left-hander aced her role as both the opening as well as the middle-order batter. The opening spot was open since the seasoned campaigner Racheal Haynes sustained an injury that made her unavailable for the second match.

It is here where Mooney, watchful like a hawk guarding a prey, stepped in. The Shepparton-born did justice to her role and inflicted more misery onto the Indian camp. She struck a well-anchored and hard-fought hundred in the second ODI. Her composure brought the winning runs for the Aussies camp in the last ball of the match.

The absence of experienced campaigners in the bowling attack like Meghan Schutt, Jess Jonassen, to quote just a few meant the bowling unit India were pitted against wasn’t the scariest, an evidence of which was the Aussies’ struggles to contain India’s batting order in the second ODI.

But here’s a point of contention.

India have been struggling with the batting form ever since enduring the long break all thanks to the dreaded COVID 19 virus.

The team’s taken a long time to get back to the winning ways, but in the meantime, India’s bowling has also struggled, especially the spinners.

India, one oughts to think, need to have more match time to work on all of the short comings.

The Aussies, on the other hand, are surrounded by injury scares and now it’s the time for the young in the squad to steer the team ahead.

There have been striking performances, for instance, Nicola Carey’s calm presence won the match in the last ball when Aussies appealed to check for a ‘No-ball’ on that very delivery. Jhulan Goswami had to bowl again, while the batting duo of Mooney and Carey sneaked out a two on that delivery.

It was a learning curve for Mithali’s side during India women’s tour of Australia, but the fielding department, without much doubt, is the one most struggling the most while their batting has improved drastically overall.

The Aussies can turn the match in their favor at any point of the game, which is what makes them such a great strength besides being a collection of sterling talents who always seem to bloom amid durress.

Though surely, the newcomers need more matches to gain experience in the International circuit. Australia lead the series 4-2 with two wins in the series so far while India won the last match of the ODI’s.

What’ll most matter is who comes out on top during a one-of-a-kind Pink Ball Test at the Carrara Oval in Queensland. The multi-format series now hangs in a balance as India look for a comeback in the longer format, while the hosts, Aussies will look to dominate given their penchant for all-round brilliance.