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Indian batters disappoint once again, but England finally get their act together

Last updated on 16 Mar 2022 | 08:01 AM
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Indian batters disappoint once again, but England finally get their act together

India were bundled out for 134 in 36.2 overs - their lowest total at a World Cup since the 2005 final

The Heather Knight-led side got off to the worst possible start in the 2022 World Cup. England lost their opening three encounters and were terrible in all three facets of the game. They dropped catches, missed stumpings, and run-outs, and their fielding was one of the biggest reasons why they ended up on the wrong side of the result every single time. 

On top of that, England had the worst bowling average and economy rate amongst all teams in the ongoing showpiece event in New Zealand. In the batting department, there were some solid individual performances but the reigning champions failed to click as a unit.

England were in desperate need of a quick turnaround and they were up against a side that they defeated in the grand finale of the 2017 World Cup. They had to make some corrections on all three fronts and that’s exactly what they did against India in Mount Maunganui on Wednesday (March 16). England took a couple of sharp catches, got two direct hits, and were phenomenal in the field, never letting India off the hook. 

The England bowlers were too short against South Africa but got their line and length right against India. The Women in Blue were bundled out for a mere 134 in 36.2 overs - their lowest total at a World Cup since the 2005 final against Australia - with Charlotte Dean (4/23) and Anya Shrubsole (2/20) doing most of the damage. England batters did have some brain-fade moments but Knight and Natalie Sciver ensured they got their first win of the competition.

Meanwhile, India might have got the better of Pakistan and the West Indies but struggled big-time against quality opponents like New Zealand and England, especially in the batting department. What’s more, two of their remaining three matches are against Australia and South Africa and they could prove to be severe speed bumps on India’s road to the knockouts. 

Indian bowlers have been pretty consistent so far but it’s their batting who have let them down against New Zealand and England. Even against Pakistan, it was Sneh Rana and Pooja Vastrakar who propelled them to a respectable total. Meanwhile, Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur smoked stunning centuries against West Indies and that kind of covered up some of the flaws in the batting unit.

India couldn’t have asked for a better time to come face to face against England and but they failed to capitalise on the momentum they gained against West Indies. And, this is not the first time we have seen India’s batting collapse against a formidable unit. In fact, England bowlers have enjoyed their time against India ever since they won their fourth title in 2017. 

During this period, India have played a decent number of ODIs against South Africa, Australia, West Indies and New Zealand, but it’s England against whom they have the worst batting average and scoring rate. Mandhana and skipper Mithali Raj average 50 against England but have a strike rate of way below 80. On Wednesday, India had a perfect opportunity to all but knock out England but their batters once again let them down, with only Mandhana and Richa Ghosh managing to touch the 30-run mark.

We all know what Shrubsole did in the 2017 final and it was once again the 30-year-old seamer who wreaked havoc in the powerplay. Yastika Bhatia was undone by a superb inswinger, while Mithali was caught at cover-point playing a loose drive. The Indian captain was in superb form during the New Zealand series but has only managed 43 runs so far in four innings, at an average of 11.5 and a strike rate of 42.59 - the worst amongst batters who have faced at least 100 deliveries in this event. Deepti Sharma was run-out going for a needless single before rookie offspinner Dean took over and dismissed Harmanpreet, Rana and Vastrakar in quick succession to break the back of India’s batting.

You don’t have to dig too deep to find out how frequently India have had such batting collapses. In their tournament opener against Pakistan, India collapsed from 96/1 to 114/6 before Rana and Vastrakar put on 122 runs for the seventh wicket. Chasing a target of 261 against New Zealand, only Harmanpreet (63-ball 71) put up some fight as India never looked alive in the run-chase. 

Especially while batting first, India don’t have a great record in the middle-overs (11-40) and that’s one of the key reasons why they haven’t been able to compete with the likes of Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand on a consistent basis. They have an average of 29.8, which is way below teams like England (33.6), New Zealand (35.7) and Australia (50.5).  

"The plan was to play the entire 50 overs but we couldn't. We wanted a total of somewhere around 240-250, which I think we could have defended. But again, not all things go your way on the cricket field. Today, we couldn't execute our plans. Our top-order hasn't really fired the way we wanted them to but I am hopeful that they will come back hard in the next game. There are no solutions (for batting collapses). There is a process and every day you try to address certain issues. Some day the top-order won't fire, someday the middle-order won't. All we can do is keep working on it," said Jhulan Goswami, who became the first bowler to take 250 wickets in Women's ODIs.

Meanwhile, Indian bowlers were under a bit of pressure prior to the World Cup but they have been pretty good so far in this tournament. Despite having 134 runs to play with, India managed to pick six of England’s wickets, with young seamer Meghna Singh claiming 3/26 in 7.2 overs. The likes of Goswami, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Rana and Vastrakar have also done well but India would need their skipper Mithali and some of the other batters to step up if they want to compete with their next opposition, Australia, who are still unbeaten in this competition. 

244 v Pakistan, 198 v New Zealand, 317 v West Indies and 134 v England, the Indian batting unit has been way too inconsistent and that will have to change if they want to get their hands on the much-awaited silverware.

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