There was something charmingly reassuring about the way Mithali Raj took on the questions from the media at the Reliance Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
The Indian captain was still recovering from a fever and had missed the last match, which her side lost tamely, but she gave the feeling that everything was right. The kind of feeling she gives when she is at the crease.
The host will be mighty relieved that Mithali, who has scored more ODI runs than any other woman in history, will be back for the second of the three-match series against Australia to be played on Thursday.
The bowlers may not have decorated themselves in glory, but it was the batting that let the team down more. You cannot score just 200 and then hope to beat a side packed with so many fine batswomen, that too, on a flat track.
So the women in blue will have to bat with more determination and resist the temptation to throw away the wicket when they are well set, which some of them were guilty of in the first game.
Apart from the captain, they would also be hoping for some solid contributions at the top of the order from the likes of Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur rather than wishing someone like Pooja Vastrakar would steady the ship at the tail and save them the blushes.
The bowlers, especially the spinners, need to come up with a better show too.
As for their counterparts, they would want just to carry on from where they left off. Left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen had taken four wickets and leggie Amanda-Jade Wellington three in their team’s eight-wicket victory. They wouldn’t mind if the Indian batswomen choose to play the perfect hostesses once again.
Their batting looks in great shape. Nicole Bolton may have stolen the show with her superb unbeaten hundred, but her fellow-opener Alyssa Healy, the World No. 1 batswoman Ellyse Perry, Beth Mooney and captain Meg Lanning, on her comeback after an injury, have also run into form.
It is not going to be an easy task for the Indian women to ensure that the series — which is part of the ICC Women’s Championship — is kept alive. For inspiration though, they need to look back only as far as last July, when they stunned the Aussies at the World Cup in England.
The teams (from):
India: Mithali Raj (Capt.), Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Sushma Verma, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shikha Pandey, Sukanya Parida, Pooja Vastrakar and Deepti Sharma.
Australia: Meg Lanning (Capt.), Rachael Haynes, Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani and Amanda-Jade Wellington.
Match starts at 9 a.m.
Source: Sports News