Indian women hope for change in fortune against England

India will need to improve in all three departments if it is to avoid a repeat of the six-wicket defeat to the Aussies at the Brabourne Stadium.

India's women T20 cricket team players (L to R) Shikha Pandey, Smriti Mandhana,Veda Krishnamurthy, Anuja Patil and Harmanpreet Kaur at the practic session at Brabourne stadium.   -  Vivek Bendre

Seasoned campaigner Mithali Raj and Smriti Mandana have been India’s most successful opening pair with an aggregate of 519 runs in 14 innings. 

Individually Mithali has scored 1042 runs from 30 innings at 47.36 and Smriti has 505 runs from 23 innings at 24.05.

Moreover, Mithali has been involved in three century-plus stands - 117 with Poonam Raut against the West Indies, 107 with Harmanpreet Kaur against Bangladesh and 106 with Smriti against South Africa; but following her inability to get going against Australia here on Thursday, there are talks of Mithali dropping down the order against England on Sunday.

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Although Mithali and Smriti raised 72 for the first wicket against Australia, India's ODI captain only contributed 18 off 27 balls.

Harmanpreet, who leads the Twenty20 side, is not unduly worried about Mithali’s struggle to force the pace in the first six overs. "When a flop innings happens, talks like this (changing the batting order) take place. She has played good knocks for the team. We can't hurry (on the decision to change her batting order) because of one match.

"Batting order and bowling line-ups will change as per the need of the team, because at the end of the day, we should think about the team. Our team meeting is yet to happen,’’ said Harmanpreet after the team’s second long training session at the Brabourne Stadium on Saturday. India had also practised on Friday after the match between England and Australia had ended.

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The host, after a good start, fumbled against Australia, but Harmanpreet said there had been a marked improvement, especially in the fielding department.  Responding to Smriti’s observations that the team has not learnt from its past mistakes, Harmanpreet said: "If you compare our T20 performance against the previous ODIs against Australia, we have improved a lot.

"Still there are a lot of areas where we need to improve and we are working on that. This is a short format and the outcome of the match depends on the momentum, which England had against Australia yesterday.’’

Harmanpreet pointed out the new fielding restrictions which allow only four players outside the fielding restriction area in the non-powerplay overs. "So even if we get 150, it is not easy for the bowlers. T20 is such a format that when the  batsmen are in flow, they want to play the big shots. I think 180 would be a decent total on this wicket.

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"But 180 can also be chased considering the batting line-up of three teams. It’s difficult for the bowlers. As a bowling unit we are working on certain areas; slog overs, first six overs, which are important for us.’’

India won the first T20 match against England in Derby in August 2006 and a second in Mumbai in March 2010. However, it has lost seven in a row since. Suffice to say, India has its task cut out.

The teams: India: Harmanpreet Kaur (Captain), Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj, Veda Krishnamurthy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Anuja Patil, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia (wicket-keeper), Poonam Yadav,  Radha Yadav, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Rumeli Dhar, Mona Meshram.

England: Heather Knight (Captain) Tamsin Beaumont, Kate Cross, Alice Davidson-Richards, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Katie George, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones, Anya Shrubsole, Bryony Smith, Nat Sciver, Fran Wilson, Danni Wyatt