India women luckily got away with a below-par performance from the batters in the opening one-day international against England.
Admitting the lack of partnerships in the middle order, captain and backbone of the batting lineup Mithali Raj said the team has to work on more run stands at the Wankhede’s batting paradise, where the teams will meet for the second ODI on Monday.
“We have to work on our partnerships and play more in the middle overs. We just had two- opening [Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues] and in the middle order [Taniya Bhatia and I]. With just two partnerships we reached 200 but if we have more partnerships we can score beyond 200 and that would be a good total on this wicket,” Raj said.
Openers Rodrigues, who was two shy from her fifty, and Mandhana stitched together a 69-run stand for the opening wicket before India slid to 95 for five. Repair work came about through a 59-run partnership between Raj and wicketkeeper batter Taniya Bhatia.
The 18-year-old top scorer Rodrigues countered experienced pace pair of Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole, picking the gaps for quick singles and eight well-timed boundaries in total.
“Jemimah has improved as a player. I’m sure if she gets such exposure on playing different kind of wickets and adapt to it, it will help her progress more in the future. She took up the responsibility of giving a good start to the team because India for a long time has struggled to have a good opening pair. Now I can see that in Smriti and Jemimah, giving us a good start,” India captain said.
Defending a low total 202, pacer Shikha Pandey trapped opener Amy Jones and returning wicketkeeper batter Sarah Taylor. When asked about Pandey’s spells, Raj said the pacer has been with the team for a long time and she has taken up the responsibility to bowl spells along with veteran Jhulan Goswami.
“It is my duty to give boost confidence by giving her more opportunities. Since New Zealand tour, she [Pandey] has taken up the responsibility to bowl the spells along with Jhulan. Jhulan being around also helps as a senior player she shares her experience with other bowlers. When seniors are around, juniors tend to develop under their wings,” Raj said.
With England captain Heather Knight and Natalie Sciver in the middle, it seemed their partnership would steer the visitors towards victory. However, leg-spinner Ekta Bisht’s, who returned 4/25, swift backthrow off her own delivery to run out Sciver and break the partnership of worth 73 runs triggered the collapse of England. The visitors lost seven wickets for 25 runs, leaving Knight stranded.
“Our spinners have done well. If they can do well on wicket [in New Zealand] which did not assist spin that much, so this is our home conditions and wicket being on a slower side help them to do far better,” Raj pointed out.
India, with a well earned upper hand and two points in the ICC Women’s Championship, will meet England for the second ODI at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday. ANI