The Indian women's cricket team will have to address its batting woes when it takes on England Women in a crucial league match of the T20I tri-series on Friday. A mid innings slump led to India's four-wicket defeat in their previous match against hosts Australia. This was after beating England by five wickets in the tournament-opener last week.
Except for opener Smriti Mandhana (35) and captain Harmanpreet Kaur (28), Indian batters showed complete lack of application on a pitch offering extra bounce at Canberra. India lost their last six wickets for 21 runs to concede the match with seven balls to spare. Sixteen-year-old Shafali Verma, touted as the next big thing in women's cricket, lasted only three balls while Jemimah Rodrigues crawled to 1 off 11 balls, leaving their team at 16 for two in three overs.
The experienced Mandhana and Harmanpreet stitched a 40-run stand before the captain's dismissal triggered a collapse. The Indian bowling attack did all it could, stretching the game till the penultimate over but there were not enough runs on the board. The tournament, which is an important preparatory event ahead of the T20 World Cup beginning in Australia on February 21, is intriguingly poised with all the three teams on 2 points from as many matches after one win and one defeat each.
The Indian batters, especially in the middle and lower order, will need to produce a much-improved show against England to brighten their chances of reaching the final. "Our lower order definitely needs to bat a lot better, especially when the top-order doesn't get runs. However, really appreciate the performance of bowlers," Harmanpreet said.
Harmanpreet, who has been the top run scorer for her side, will have to once again lead from the front while hoping that young Shafali Verma fires on top of the Indian innings. Another key middle-order batter Veda Krishnamurthy is due a big innings after two failures while one-down Rodrigues also needs to come good on Friday for an Indian win.
The England team was lucky to have won against Australia via Super Over in their previous match but it batted well in both the matches. A lot will depend on captain Heather Knight who has been in red-hot form with two back-to-back half centuries.