Indian batter Punam Raut on Sunday said she had worked on improving her strike-rate, something that has invited a lot of criticism over the years.
Punam, who struck an impressive hundred in a losing cause, had scores of 62 and 77 in the first two games respectively.
"I have been working on this, to improve my strike rate...Since lockdown, worked on it, worked on backfoot shots a little bit and also rotating the strike," she told reporters after India went down by South Africa by seven wickets in the fourth ODI, already conceding the five-match series. Asked if talk about her low strike rate bothered her, Punam Raut said she did not think too much about it and instead focussed on her contribution to the team.
"I don't think too much about strike rate. I focus on my contribution to the team. As for comebacks (which she has made many times), it is important to stay mentally strong. Also, there are people who tell me that my strike is low, I don't let it worry me. I keep working on my game," she added.
To a question if a score around 270 was not enough given the good batting conditions, she said the total put up by India on Sunday (266) was a challenging one, adding the bowling unit needs to be more disciplined.
"..as far as the bowling unit, there needs to be some discipline. Of course, after lockdown we are coming together after a long time...I am confident as we go along we can do well," she added.
"We have to work on bowling, be more disciplined. Also, the fielding we have to work on it. There are youngsters in the team, we have to give time to them." About her ton in Sunday's game (her third in ODIs), Raut said it was a special one as it came after a long time.
"Very valuable... A century is special for every batter. I wanted to convert my good form into three figures. I like this ground and this wicket (laughs). This is special hundred as it has come after a long time," she added.
She said during the COVID-19 enforced lockdown, she worked a lot on her batting with her coach and was grateful for that.
"We were away from the game for a year. I worked on my batting during the lockdown, worked with coach. Also, I played some practice matches. I got the time to work on my game during the lockdown, I am grateful for that," she added.
With regard to her good form and if there was any talk of moving up the order given that the openers were not able to provide good starts, Raut said she said such a decision would be taken by the captain and coach.
'Bowlers need to work on preparation before a series'
Skipper Mithali Raj on Sunday said her bowlers lacked the right kind of preparation before entering the five-match series.
"Even if we scored more than 266, it wouldn't be enough, the way the South Africans batted. Our bowling department needs to work on preparation before a series. We lacked that," Mithali said at the presentation ceremony.
"We are not a bad fielding side but there are things we can improve on," she added.
Veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami missed the match due to a niggle and India struggled in her absence.
"We missed Jhulan's experience but it was an opportunity for the other bowlers to step up and take responsibility. Our spin department is experienced. I expect them to come back stronger," Mithali said.
South African skipper Laura Wolvaardt, who set the tone with a 116-run opening wicket stand with Lizelle Lee, called it a "massive team effort".
"I'm fresh to the job and I used the senior players for advice and help. The plan was to be as attacking with the ball upfront as we could be. We have a world-class attack. One in the top four has to bat through for us. It's something we haven't done in the past," Wolvaardt said.
Mignon du Preez was named the Player of the Match for her 55-ball 61, while raising a crucial partnership of 103 runs for the third wicket with Lara Goodall (59 not out), with whom she shared the award.
"I am sharing this with Lara Goodall. She also deserves this." "I am one of the experienced players who has been in the line-up a long time and I feel like sometimes I don't always convert my starts.
"Laura and Lizelle set up the team so everyone else can play with freedom. It's been something we wanted to do for a long time: to contribute in the middle.
"This is a special one. Winning a series in India, in these tough conditions, and with everything happening in the world, we are going to treasure this one," Preez said.
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