Ind vs Aus 3rd ODI: Under-pressure Indian bowlers gear up to prevent clean sweep vs 'Southern Stars'

Not being able to defend a total as big as 274 after having the home team on the mat for the better part in the second match doesn't speak highly of Mithali Raj's outfit.

Australia's Beth Mooney celebrates her team's victory while Jhulan Goswami of India looks dejected during the second ODI in Mackay on Friday.   -  GETTY IMAGES

India's under-fire bowlers will need to put up a much-improved show as it faces the ignominy of a clean sweep against an Australian team, which is looking for its 27th win on the trot, during the third and final women's ODI here on Sunday.

A marginal no-ball call off the final delivery bowled by Jhulan Goswami found India on the wrong side of the result in the second match.

The match indeed was a humdinger but not being able to defend a total as big as 274 after having the home team on the mat for the better part doesn't speak highly of Mithali Raj's outfit.

The manner in which Beth Mooney, who opened in absence of Rachel Haynes along with Tahlia McGrath and Nicola Carey, snatched the game away would hurt for a long time. And they could do it with ease without any contribution from one of their best batters Alyssa Healy and the iconic captain Meg Lanning.

India's bowling attack barring Goswami, who is in a league of her own, hasn't delivered throughout 2021. A lot of it is due to the fact that the Indian cricket establishment failed to find a worthy new ball partner for Goswami once Amita Sharma left the scene a decade back.

Shikha Pandey is very hardworking cricketer but could never measure up to the level of being a regular partner for Goswami and neither the likes of Mansi Joshi, Puja Vastrakar, Monica Patel could instil any confidence.

Niranjana Nagarajan was put in cold storage by the cricket system and Meghana Singh is still raw and requires time to deliver.

READ: AUS-W vs IND-W 2nd ODI HIGHLIGHTS: Australia wins by five wickets, registers 36th successive win

The spin department was India's strength but stronger opposition teams have now measured up how to play Poonam Yadav's loopy leg breaks and thus she has largely become ineffective.

Deepti Sharma, at least in bowling, has been consistent but is more of a restrictive bowler without skill-sets to run through an opposition.

How Mithali, who herself is facing the heat because of her pedestrian strike-rate, would manage to lift the team is the big question.

She has scored a lot of half-centuries of late but save the one that came in an inconsequential win in England, most of those runs has added to her growing tally of 20,000 plus international runs without much help to the team.

If India loses this series 0-3, then it would have lost nine out of their last 11 50-over games which isn't the best preparation going into the Women's ODI World Cup in New Zealand early next year.

Mithali and Deepti are the two weak links in this batting line-up when it comes to scoring runs at a quick clip. They have in the past year wasted an awful lot of deliveries putting the other batters under tremendous pressure and the below-par team totals have made it even more difficult for the bowling attack.

It could be said that Indian captain's run-out after scoring 8 off 23 balls proved to be a blessing in disguise as Smriti Mandhana and Richa Ghosh could again up the ante which was lost after Shafali Verma's departure.

In case Harmanpreet Kaur is available, it would be great but the Indian vice-captain has also been in poor form so no one knows how much of a difference will it make in such a situation.

Match starts at 5:35 am IST.

Squads:

India: Mithali Raj (Captain), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Taniya Bhatia (wicket-keeper), Shikha Pandey, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh, Ekta Bisht.

Australia: Meg Lanning (captain), Darcie Brown, Maitlan Brown, Stella Campbell, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Georgia Redmayne, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham.

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