After having started with a comfortable win, India faced defeats in the next three games. With one game left against mighty Australia, India have a lot more thing to sort out at Junction Oval in Melbourne on Saturday.
India are currently at the bottom of the points table with two points and they need to win the do-or-die game against Australia if they want to reach the final on Wednesday (February 12). After having won against England in the first game, India's performance has gone downwards only.
They faced consecutive losses against Australia and England where they put up 103 and 123 runs respectively. While the bowlers stretched those games nearly at the end, it was India's middle-order which failed to contribute. Moreover, the openers failed to capitalize their start along with the top-order.
However, this is not the first time, India's middle-order woes continue since long despite having the quality players and they need to work on the loopholes if they want to do good in the mega event.
“I guess we were 20 runs short. We have to focus on areas where we were not able to get our best. Our spinners are doing well but for them to do better we need to set a total on the board,” Harmanpreet Kaur expressed at the post-match presentation after their defeat against England. “We need to bat well otherwise it will be difficult for us. Tomorrow will be do or die for us. We’ll try to give our best.”
Apart from Smriti Mandhana who scored 15, 35, 45 in three games and Harmanpreet Kaur who scored 28, 42*, 28 and 14 so far, the middle order failed to reach the double-digit - Veda Krishnamurthy (2), Taniya Bhatia (8), Deepti Sharma (9) and Arundhati Reddy (7).
On the other hand, Australia have a pool of players who can stand up if the top-order fails to perform. After having lost in the super over against England, Australia bounced back beautifully against India where Ellyse Perry's brilliant all-round show did the job. She registered her second-best T20 bowling figure 4 for 13 and scored 49 off 47 while chasing.
However, the pitch at the Junction Oval was good to bat on in Friday's game. Moreover, it helped the spinners as well. With a team full of specialist seamers like Tayla Vlaeminck, Megan Schutt and Ellyse Perry, it will be interesting to see how Aussies will use their spinners like Ashleigh Gardner and Jess Jonassen.
Meanwhile, their regular captain Meg Lanning is all set to return. Nicola Carey might have to leave her place in the playing XI for her captain as there are no other players who could be dropped in the game.
While Australia have a balanced side, India might look at some changes in their playing XI and batting order as well. Since Harmanpreet Kaur is one of the experienced players in this format, she should face more balls. As the youngster, Shafali Verma has failed to provide with a flying start and Jemimah failed to contribute much, Kaur should come to bat at number 3. It will help India to put up a good total, as well as chasing them.
Along with this, another youngster Richa Ghosh should get a chance in the playing XI to showcase her talent before the World Cup. On the other hand, Nuzhat Parween might come in place of regular captain Taniya Bhatia. She has been in good touch in the domestic format and might be helpful in the middle-order as well since Bhatia has failed to contribute so far.
Left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad has been doing a fabulous job. In the absence of Poonam Yadav, Deepti Sharma and Radha Yadav have been doing their best to restrict their best. However, they are lacking a seamer who could support Shikha Pandey.
However, it will be interesting to see whether Australia maintain their winning streak or India bounce back.
Australia: Alyssa Healy (WK), Beth Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner, Meg Lanning (C), Ellyse Perry, Rachael Haynes, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham, Megan Schutt, Nicola Carey, Sophie Molineux, Erin Burns, Tayla Vlaeminck.
India: Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Veda Krishnamurthy, Taniya Bhatia (WK), Deepti Sharma, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Radha Yadav, Richa Ghosh, Arundhati Reddy, Harleen Deol, Nuzhat Parween, Poonam Yadav.