India vs South Africa 4th ODI: All eyes on Mithali Raj in do-or-die clash

South Africa leads the ODI series 2-1, and the Indian women's cricket team will be hungry to turn the tide at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow on Sunday.

India ODI captain Mithali Raj is hopeful of a turnaround with more game time.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Despite the largely predictable pattern of teams winning the toss winning the match, it has been a fascinating series so far, between the Indian women and South Africa.

While the Momentum Proteas look to have mastered the situation to take a 2-1 lead in the five-ODI series, the Indian team has given many hints that it can play a lot better than what it has done so far.

The way Lizelle Lee made light of chasing a target of 249, with a hurricane unbeaten 132 in tough windy conditions which eventually ended in an anti-climactic rain, the Indian team is bound to step up its response to match wits.

READ| India women vs South Africa women: India expects Deepti, Sushma to up the ante in death overs

It is easier to be wise after the event, and blame the Indian performers like Punam Raut, Smriti Mandhana or Mithali Raj for not converting their strong foundation into bigger scores, it has to be conceded that with more ‘’game time’’, the Indian players are evolving with valuable lessons.

"Playing more matches will help us get into our rhythm. On tracks not assisting spin, our experienced spinners have very little space to try their variations," said captain Mithali after the defeat on Duckworth and Lewis calculation in the third match.

When queried about the need to reduce the dot-ball percentage in the innings, Mithali said that everything depended on the situation, whether it was time "to develop momentum or try and build a partnership’’, and that the players have been compensating for the slow spells.

READ| Lizelle Lee hammers ton as South Africa women's team defeats India via D/L method

Despite the consistently strong performance of Jhulan Goswami, who has taken eight wickets in three matches, the Indian bowling looks to have lost its sting in admirable batting conditions against a determined opponent.

READ| Mithali Raj's coach Murthy reveals the secret to her success

While the batting needs to be more organised to suit the demands of the situation, the bowlers have to find a way to take wickets in the second innings. South Africa showed top class catching to make a difference. The Indian bowling first needs to create opportunities and then cash in on them.

With the constant talk about preparing for the World Cup next year, the Indian team is getting many sharp lessons which would help it develop into a strong unit.

The immediate focus is to win the series, and India needs to win the fourth match to keep the series alive.

Only two strips have been used so far in the three matches out of nine pitches. It will be interesting to see which strip is used on Sunday and whether it shows any different behaviour, except help the bowlers in the morning and tax them in the afternoon.