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Harmanpreet’s woes against spin a concern as Australia decimate India again

article_imageTALKING POINTS
Last updated on 02 Jan 2024 | 04:33 PM
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Harmanpreet’s woes against spin a concern as Australia decimate India again

A quick look at a few talking points from the final ODI between India and Australia in Mumbai

Litchfield is here to stay

Phoebe Litchfield showed excellent skills to ensure that she was a thorn in India’s flesh in all the three ODIs of the series. After getting a couple of fifties in the first two games, she stepped it up with a well-compiled ton in the third and final ODI in Mumbai on Tuesday (January 2), earning her the player of the series award. 

Also Read: Phoebe Litchfield - Australia's new superkid on the block

She scored at a strike-rate of over 100 against pacers and spinners on Tuesday, whipping out the flicks and sweeps at will.

It has been quite a ride for Litchfield, who comes in just at the right time for Australia, following the retirement of two of their senior-most players Meg Lanning and Rachel Haynes in a span of a few months. Litchfield's shot selection and temperament were in full display in the three ODIs, after a poor outing in the Test. Australia will hope that she kicks on to greater heights from here.

Australia bowlers outdo their counterparts

While Australia were expected to fare much better than India when it comes to their fast bowlers, their spinners too have outshone India in the series.

The Australian spinners have accounted for eight wickets at 30.4, striking once every 33.8 deliveries (ER 5.4). Their Indian counterparts may have picked up more wickets (13), but have conceded runs at an economy rate of 5.5 and have struck once every 32.4 runs, 34.9 deliveries apart.

There’s no prize for guessing how good the Australian pacers were. They comfortably trumped India in every parameter, picking up 18 wickets at 24.2, striking once every 29.2 deliveries at an economy rate of 4.9. On the other hand, the Indian pacers’ six wickets came at an average of 65.7, strike-rate of 65 and economy rate of six. 

India’s middle-order too slow?

One of the major areas where India have been lagging behind is the inability of their middle-order (3-6) to score at a brisk rate. In ODIs since 2022, the Indian middle-order has scored at 4.5 an over, whereas Australia have been scoring at 5.4 an over and are only behind England (6) in this period.

While the Indian batters from 3-6 have been doing well when it comes to maintaining a healthy runs per wicket (34.8) and balls per wicket (46) parameter, there has been a massive difference when it comes to the pace in which they get the runs, which is something they need to address.

Even today, the batters in those positions scored at a combined strike-rate of 68.57, which is certainly not good enough, if they are chasing a target of 339.

Harmanpreet’s woes against spin continues

India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur was once again dismissed by a spinner in the third ODI and was once again dismissed playing a paddle sweep. Since the start of 2023, she has been dismissed by spinners in all her six innings in the format. 

This series, the spinners barely gave Harman room to work with, keeping it on the stumps or bowling the fourth stump line, which frustrated her, eventually leading to her downfall. 

Even if you consider her stats in ODIs since 2022, Harmanpreet’s has a healthy average of 77.79 against the pacers (SR 91.31), but it dips to just 36.72 against spin (SR 78.29), further underlying her struggles.

She faced a total of just 37 deliveries in this series and managed just 17 runs. Since the unbeaten 143 against England in September 2022, Harmanpreet has registered scores of 4, 5, 52, 14, 9, 5 and 3 in her next seven innings. Her form in white-ball cricket could be cause for concern for India, going into the T20I series against Australia.

Australia’s dominance continues

Australia have now won 10 straight ODIs against India in India – a streak that stretches way back to 2007. In fact, before the start of the series, both England and Australia had thumped India 40 times each. With three more wins, Australia have become the team that has beaten India the most times in the 50-over format.

That semi-final win in the 2017 World Cup in Derby, where Harmanpreet played out of her skin, was tipped to be a potential turning point for India. But since that game, Team India have managed to beat the Aussies just once in 10 attempts. In fact, Australia have gone on to reclaim the World Cup crown after that, while India still remain in search of the elusive trophy. Will that happen in 2026? Let’s wait and see.

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