Mithali returns to boost India in must-win clash

The host was given a rude shock in the series opener, where Australia romped to an eight-wicket win, with almost 18 overs to spare.

India were let down by its batting and fielding in the first match.   -  Vijay Soneji

There was something charmingly reassuring about the way Mithali Raj took on the questions from the media at the Reliance Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.

The Indian captain was still recovering from a fever and had missed the last match, which her side lost tamely, but she gave the feeling that everything was right in the world. The kind of feeling she gives when she is at the crease.

The host will be mighty relieved that Mithali, the highest run-scorer in ODIs, will be back for the second of the three-match series against Australia to be played on Thursday. It has been the batting that has let down the team in the previous matches. So the Women in Blue would look to have a more determined approach in the must-win game. Apart from the captain, they would also be hoping for some solid contributions at the top from the likes of Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur than exposing the middle-order too soon.

"In the last game, everyone in the top-order got a good start, but none could go on and keep the batting unit together. They probably didn’t pick the right ball against the Australian spinners. Maybe that was because we are coming from a T20 format, which was the last series we played. I am sure the girls would have learnt from their mistakes after the first game," Mithali said.

READ: Ind Women vs Aus Women: All-round Australia thumps host to go 1-0 up

The Indian spinners also are expected to come up with a better show when compared to the tweakers from the opposition camp. Left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen claimed four wickets and leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington took three in their team’s eight-wicket win in the first match.

Moreover, Australia's batting too looks in great shape, with Nicole Bolton cracking an unbeaten hundred. Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Beth Mooney and captain Meg Lanning too look in great form with runs under their belt.

It won't be an easy task for the Indian women to ensure that the series – which is part of the ICC Women’s Championship – is kept alive. For inspiration though, they need to look back only as far as last July, when they stunned the Aussies at the World Cup in England.

Squads (from):

India: Mithali Raj (capt), Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Sushma Verma, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shikha Pandey, Sukanya Parida, Pooja Vastrakar and Deepti Sharma

Australia: Meg Lanning (capt), Rachael Haynes, Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani and Amanda-Jade Wellington.