Head coach Amol Muzumdar said India’s fielding and their performance in the death overs cost them the second ODI against Australia in Mumbai on Saturday (December 30). The Women in Blue dropped seven catches in total, which played a massive role in their three-run defeat at the Wankhede stadium.
Phoebe Litchfield (98-ball 63) was dropped thrice, while Ellyse Perry (47-ball 50) was also given a reprieve. They even dropped Alana King twice and her 17-ball 28* in the final overs ended up being the difference maker. Australia scored 258 on a tricky surface and then restricted India to 255 to seal the series with a game to go.
"We're in the process of building it up. There's no doubt that our fielding was below par today. We dropped about six (seven) catches. It always happens in a game. Even they dropped a few. But having said that, we still are a work in progress. If we get time post this series, I'm sure we'll try to spend a lot of time on fielding and fitness,” said Muzumdar.
Despite so many dropped opportunities, India could still have restricted Australia to around 230. However, the likes of King, Annabel Sutherland (23) and Georgia Wareham (22) all chipped in with decent cameos down the order and took Australia past 250. India conceded 53 runs in the last six overs, with Pooja Vastrakar being hit for 18 in the final over.
"I think that didn't tilt the balance but I thought that just gave the momentum to Australia a little bit going into the dressing room. That's one area where I feel we need to have a look in and improve ourselves going forward, is the death overs, whether it is batting or bowling. We'll be working hard on that."
Deepti Sharma claimed five wickets in the first innings but was terrible with the bat. The left-hander walked out to bat when India needed 87 runs off 86 deliveries and Richa Ghosh was batting like a dream at the other end. However, Deepti (36-ball 24*) played too many dot deliveries and failed to get India over the line.
"At the end of the day we can all sit and say 'oh, we missed out by three runs' but there were about 600 balls bowled in that. So we can always go back and talk about it in hindsight. Yes, we fell short by three runs but I cannot name anyone for the defeat. It's just a collective effort. Probably just one more shot or one more stop in the field could have done the trick.”
One thing that worked well for India was Richa at No. 3. The wicketkeeper-batter played the innings of her life, scoring 96 off 117 deliveries, but was let down by other batters. She is being used at No. 3 in this series and Richa seems to be loving her life in the top-order. The 20-year-old showed tremendous maturity under pressure and Muzumdar was quite impressed.
"What a knock it was under pressure at No. 3, a new position for her, and she has proven why she has been spoken about so highly. Her talent speaks for herself. I think, probably a hundred would have been an appropriate one for her. But, unfortunately, she got out. But it was a special knock.
"So, the batting order has been Richa at No. 3, our No. 4 is Harman (Harmanpreet Kaur) and No. 5 is Jemi (Jemimah Rodrigues). Unfortunately, today, Harman wasn't feeling too well. That's why she was dropped (down). Otherwise, there is no up and down. Sometimes, in a game as tough as this, you need to address those situations therein. But Richa has been at No. 3.
"We believe that she can be a good top-order player. We believe in her talent and you have seen what kind of shots she can play. She can use the first ten overs and play according to the situation. That's the best spot for her. At least now, we feel that Richa at No. 3 is a very good choice."