CommBank Series v India - ODIs
'Hit everywhere': India skipper ponders spin issues
Mithali Raj insists execution rather than strategy was to blame for lacklustre bowling in tour-opening ODI defeat to Australia
Adam Burnett , in Mackay
21 September 2021, 08:11 PM AEST
Captain Mithali Raj has identified the ruthless treatment of India's spin attack by Australia in the ODI series opener in Mackay as the key problem the tourists need to rectify ahead of game two on Friday.
Australia dropped just one wicket in their pursuit of India's 226, with Alyssa Healy (77), Rachael Haynes (93no) and Meg Lanning (53no) all appearing in cruise control as they surged to victory with 54 balls to spare.
Against 23 overs of spin (out of 41), they piled on 135 runs at 5.87 per over, while the opening pace pair of Jhulan Goswami and Meghna Singh went at just 4.06 runs per over (though first change seamer Pooja Vastrakar's two overs cost 26).
While a method for making inroads into this record-breaking Australian side eluded them, Raj was insistent it was more a matter of execution than a lack of ideas.
"We do have plans but it's about executing them on the ground," she said. "Sometimes the bowlers don't get the rhythm, and sometimes they get the rhythm but the plan isn't working.
"But we do have a lot to work on in the bowling department, because predominantly we are spinners, and the spinners are getting hit everywhere, so that is something we need to tweak."
As much as India's bowling plans failed to pay dividends, it was their batting that also looked out of step with the Australians' rapid rate of scoring.
Raj, who made 63 from 107 deliveries, reasonably pointed out that two early wickets will stall any run rate, and that a recovery at that point was crucial.
However, India's pre-innings target of "anything close to 250" was not likely to test an Australian batting unit that looks well ahead of its rivals.
"Losing two wickets – especially batters like Shafali (Verma) and Smriti (Mandhana) – in the Powerplay itself, it was important that the middle order started to build partnerships," she reflected.
"That's what we did with Yastika (Bhatia) but we didn't really get enough partnerships in the lower-middle order as well."
There is cause for optimism for the tourists in the form of Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues, two well-credentialed batters who have the capacity to push this Indian side towards more competitive totals as this series unfolds.
Then there was the form of the debutants in Yastika, who again impressed with 35 after making a stylish 41 in last Saturday's practice match in Brisbane, and Richa Ghosh, the 17-year-old who made a composed 32no from 29 balls at the back-end of the Indian innings.
While ruling out wholesale changes, Raj said enough to suggest Kaur, who injured her thumb last week, and Rodrigues might both come into calculations for Friday's second ODI.
"Based on one game, I wouldn't want to cut and chop players," she said. "Sometimes the first game doesn't go well for a particular player so we need to give them that support of another opportunity.
"So not much of a change, but maybe one or two."
India will be hoping it makes all the difference.
CommBank Series v India
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), 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
India Test and ODI squad: Mithali Raj (c), Harmanpreet Kaur (vc), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Shikha Pandey, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh, Ekta Bisht.
India T20I squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Shikha Pandey, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh (wk), Harleen Deol, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Renuka Singh.
First ODI: Australia defeated India by nine wickets
Sep 30 – Oct 3: Test match, Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast (D/N)