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Renuka stands out, but Indian spinners continue to falter vs quality opponents

Last updated on 18 Feb 2023 | 05:58 PM
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Renuka stands out, but Indian spinners continue to falter vs quality opponents

The Women in Blue have lost all their six encounters against England in T20 World Cups

India started their 2023 T20 World Cup campaign with wins against Pakistan and West Indies but didn’t look like a side that can win the silverware. And, it was only a matter of time before they were outclassed by a quality opponent and that’s exactly what happened against England in Gqeberha on Saturday (February 18).

Renuka Singh had a phenomenal game, while Smriti Mandhana and Richa Ghosh did well with the bat, but it was never going to be enough to topple a side like England. The Women in Blue eventually went down by 11 runs and now need to win their final group-stage match against Ireland if they want to qualify for the knockouts without bringing NRR into play. 

You would expect Harmanpreet Kaur and her team to defeat Ireland but this game against England gave everyone the right picture of why India have constantly struggled against big teams in world events.  

An outing to remember for Renuka

India would be disappointed with the result but what Renuka did with the ball was nothing short of exceptional. The right-arm seamer claimed five wickets for 15 runs, registering the best bowling figures for India in the T20 World Cup, both Men’s and Women’s. The 27-year-old was almost unplayable with the new ball and returned to take two more wickets in the final over to complete her five-wicket haul.

It all started with Renuka getting Danielle Wyatt caught behind before knocking over Alice Capsey and Sophia Dunkley with two beautiful in-swingers. Then getting the wickets of Jones and Katherine Sciver-Brunt in the last over was icing on the cake. We all know how much Renuka loves bowling with the new ball. Ever since her debut, only Deepti Sharma has taken more wickets than Renuka in the powerplay.

Also read: The year gone by: How Renuka rattled world cricket

The Shimla-born player did something similar in the inaugural match of the Commonwealth Games when she derailed Australia's top-order with four wickets for 18 runs in her four-over spell, including 16 dot deliveries. As of now, India have a few things to worry about, but Renuka’s form isn’t one of them.

Indian spinners’ ineffectiveness

Spinners are supposed to be the strength of India’s bowling attack but their recent numbers tell a completely different story, especially against quality sides like Australia and England. In overs 7-20, Indian spinners have the worst economy rate (6.8) and balls/boundary (7.8) and the second-worst average (19.8) amongst the top-8 ranked nations since the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia.

Well, that’s not it. Their numbers take an even more beating against Australia and England, operating at an economy of 8.8 and 7.8 respectively in this time frame. Deepti, Radha Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad have been India’s frontline spinners for a while now and all of them have mediocre numbers against Australia and England. 

Deepti has an average of 29.8 and an economy of 7.8 against these two teams, while Radha and Gayakwad’s numbers are even more terrible since the last T20 WC. Radha averages 90.5 at an economy of 8.2 in 15 matches against these two sides, while Gayakwad’s corresponding numbers are 30.8 and 9.1 respectively. And, this tells you why India have struggled against Australia and England.  

Now, let’s talk about what they did in this game against England. Thanks to Renuka, Heather Knight and Co. were reduced to 29/3 by the end of five overs, but that’s when Indian spinners lost control and allowed Nat Sciver-Brunt and Knight to score freely. Deepti leaked 37 runs in her four overs, while Shafali Verma and Gayakwad conceded 23 runs between them in two overs. Radha (0/27) was the most economical among them but couldn’t put enough pressure. 

“We started really well but in the middle overs we didn't bowl according to plan and gave away too many runs. That's where we lost the momentum,” said Harmanpreet. 

Overall, the Indian spinners were hit for 87 runs in 10 overs. There were too many full-tosses bowled and England batters made the most of it. Nat Sciver-Brunt slammed 50 off 42, while Knight got 28 off 23. However, it was Jones (27-ball 40) who got England past the 150-run mark. This is not something new and the aforementioned stats suggest the same. 

The story is no different for some Indian batters

The moment India come face to face against Australia and England, they end up over-relying on Mandhana, Ghosh and Deepti and it was once against the first two batters who did the majority of scoring in the run-chase. Mandhana smacked 52 off 41, while Ghosh scored a 34-ball 47*, but apart from them, not a single India batter had a strike rate of more than 82.

Since the last T20 World Cup, Mandhana (average 33.58, strike rate 135.6), Ghosh (31.25, 143.3) and Deepti (35.75, 121.2) are the only Indian batters who have good numbers against Australia and England. The latter might not have fired with the bat tonight but India needed 47 off four overs when she walked out to bat, so it won’t be right to blame her on the basis of this knock, but the same can’t be said about Shafali, Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet.

Let’s talk about Shafali first. The 19-year-old is a “generational talent” but is way too inconsistent. She averages 23.22 at a strike rate of 126.8 in this format in the aforementioned time frame and those numbers drop down even further against Australia and England - 18.38 and 118.2. Guess how she got out? Yup, the same short-ball ploy. Rodrigues (35.6 and 114.8 v 23.11 and 104.5) and Harmanpreet (31.03 and 118.7 v 26.64 and 125.5) too are on the same boat.

Qualifying for the semis is no more an achievement, but with what we saw against England tonight, India could once again get knocked out cold if they don’t raise their standards against the heavyweights.

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