The crushing defeat in the opening game exposed a lot of chinks in their armour and a depleted India will be eager to address their batting and fielding woes when they face New Zealand in the second women’s ODI in Queenstown on Tuesday.
Nothing worked for India in the first ODI on Saturday with the bowlers allowing the hosts to pile on 275 before the batters, except for captain Mithali Raj, flopped to be all out for 213 and lose the match by 62 runs.
Raj was virtually the lone hand with a well-crafted 59 while rookie Yastika Bhatia made 41. All the other batters, including vice captain Harmanpreet Kuar (10 off 22 balls), failed to make any significant contribution in the face of a clinical bowling show from New Zealand led by Jesse Kerr (4 for 35).
The Indians’ cause was not helped by the absence of senior opener Smriti Mandhana who missed the first ODI due to extended quarantine, along with Renuka Singh and Meghana Singh. Mandhana and Meghana are not likely to be available for the second ODI either but pacer Renuka could make the team as she is out of her quarantine.
In the first ODI, India collapsed from 105 for 2 to 165 for 6 as New Zealand kept their line and length accurate. With both experienced batters Raj and Harmanpreet dismissed in quick succession by the 33rd over, both by Jess Kerr, India could not chase down the target.
Before that, the Indian bowlers let New Zealand score 275. The Indians seemed to have tied down the New Zealand batters till around the halfway mark but the hosts upped the ante in the middle overs to reach a big score. Centurion Suzie Bates was let off early when she was 13 with Rajeshwari Gayakwad dropping her at point and that sloppy fielding cost India dear. Bates went on to score 106 to anchor the New Zealand innings.
The return to form of opener Bates, who scored her 11th ODI hundred and first in 19 innings, could be ominous for India. The only positive from the first game was that barring Harmanpreet, all the Indian bowlers were among wickets with Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Jhulan Goswami and Rajeshwari Gayakwad taking two apiece, while Poonam Yadav got one.
With the 50-over World Cup less than three weeks away, Raj was a bit concerned, especially on the batting front, though she expected the team to make improvements.
“We should be able to score 270 because that’s the standard now in women’s cricket,” she said.
She also wanted her bowlers to get used to the New Zealand conditions at a faster pace. “It’s important to get used to the conditions, it’s in a way good that we are playing a series before World Cup. We definitely made a comeback in later half of first innings. It took time for the bowlers to get used to windy conditions, because there was a lot of breeze in the middle.”
India: Mithali Raj (c), Harmanpreet Kaur (vc), Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh (wk), Sneh Rana, Jhulan Goswami, Pooja Vastrakar, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Simran Dil Bahadur.
New Zealand: Sophie Devine (c), Amy Satterthwaite (vc), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Jess Kerr, Melie Kerr, Frankie Mackay, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu.
Match starts at 3:30 am IST.