Mighty impressed with all the debutants: Mithali Raj

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safari
20 Jun 2021 | 06:00 AM
authorcricket.com staff

Mighty impressed with all the debutants: Mithali Raj

The Indian captain also spoke about why Sneh Rana was picked over experienced spinners like Poonam Yadav and Ekta Bisht

India Women's Test captain Mithali Raj said it was Sneh Rana's utility with bat and ball that prompted the team management to pick her in the playing XI ahead of the likes of Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav and Ekta Bisht for the one-off Test against England in Bristol. 

Making her Test debut, offspinner Rana scalped four wickets in the first innings and then played a match-saving knock of 80* on the fourth and final day at the County Ground. Batting at No. 8, the 27-year-old put on an unbeaten stand of 104 for the ninth wicket with wicketkeeper-batter Taniya Bhatia and helped India pull off a memorable draw.

"It was important for us to pick spinners who've been doing well, because we didn't really have much of a camp or tournament before this when they picked the team. Sneh was bowling well along with Deepti (Sharma), and her bonus was she was (also) a batter. We wanted to lengthen our batting order," said Raj.

"At one point, the (lack of) variation did play in my mind, (using) two incoming bowlers to them. But they do have one of the best left-arm spinners in their side. So clearly they will be playing a lot more left-arm spinners. So we thought why not feed in two offspinners. 

"Sneh has got a lot of wickets in the domestic season. So a player who has been in form for the last two years in the domestic season, having a really good season with the bat as well as with the ball...so why not feed her in in the first game as well."

India were bundled out for 231 in their first innings and were then reduced to 199/7 in the second essay after being asked to follow on. They were leading by only 34 runs but that's when Rana, Shikha Pandey (18) and Bhatia (44*) batted with tremendous courage and didn't allow England to emerge victorious.

"Our intent was to not be very defensive, and play according to the situation. But most of them have been playing white-ball cricket for quite some time. And batting is a very instinctive thing. No matter how much you tune yourself, if you've played a lot many games with the white-ball, there will be times when your instincts just take over and you tend to play your shots," said Raj.

"Which is bound to happen if you play a longer format after a good 6-7 years gap. If it's a regular feature the players adapt to it quickly. But our basic message was to keep a positive intent and not look too defensive."

The Indian captain heaped heavy praise on all the five debutants - Rana, Deepti Sharma, Shafali Verma, Pooja Vastrakar and Bhatia. We have already mentioned what Rana and Bhatia did in the second innings, while Vastrakar picked up a wicket and scored 24 runs in the game. 

Meanwhile, Deepti scalped three wickets with her offspin and played handy knocks of 29* and 54. And finally, Shafali, who was named player of the match, smoked scores of 96 and 63 and got India off to an outstanding start in both innings.

"Sneh is surely coming back after five years but that girl has clearly had a good couple of domestic seasons. I'm sure she walked in with loads of confidence. She played very, very sensibly, along with Taniya and Shikha Pandey. That partnership was very, very crucial for us, losing Harman and Punam Raut at that stage.

"That partnership that Sneh Rana built with Shikha Pandey was very, very important for us. So, I'm mighty impressed with all the debutants because right from Shafali to Deepti, Sneh, Pooja Vastrakar and Taniya Bhatia, they've all really done well.

"As a team that's what we speak before the start of the game or any day of the game. We try and regroup and we talk a lot more about positive intent with which to face a situation. How do we (play) whether it's a collapse or if we've been asked to follow on. So the constant talk of follow-on, what is going to happen and where we stand - that's very important. 

"So when we are together as a team the younger girls tend to pick up from this constant chat and it helps them to prepare for any situation, how to react, how to handle that."

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England Women vs India WomenIndia Women Tour of England, 2021India WomenMithali RajSneh Rana

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