Deepti shines as Harmanpreet's India starts ODI series on high
As India were put into the field in the first ODI at Pallekele by Sri Lanka, they had three specialist bowlers, three all-rounders and five batters, which included two extra bowling options.
Published: 02nd July 2022 08:03 AM | Last Updated: 02nd July 2022 08:03 AM | A+A A-
CHENNAI: 8 — that’s the number of ODIs India has taken the field without either Mithali Raj or Jhulan Goswami in the 237 matches they played since the latter made her debut in 2002. With Mithali announcing her retirement and Jhulan not included in the squad, the ODI series against Sri Lanka is in many ways a new beginning for India.
For starters, it is their first assignment in the next ICC Women’s ODI Championship cycle. This means, that as much as they want to build a new team for the future under Harmanpreet Kaur, they can’t afford to not look at results. They will have to work on the process of “improving fitness and fielding”, and “building a winning habit” while ensuring that they end up on the right side of the result more often than not.
"I have set some goals for us. Fitness is very important for a player. Skills wise we have coaches but I want to set an example where the players can see me and get motivated to become fit. Fitness and fielding are two things I want my team to improve. If these two aspects are covered then you are the best side,” Harmanpreet had said on the eve of the ODI series on Thursday.
As her team was put into the field in the first ODI at Pallekele by Sri Lanka, the playing XI painted a fair idea as to the kind of approach India is trying to take. They had three specialist bowlers, three all-rounders, and five batters, which included two extra bowling options and a wicketkeeper.
With the conditions being on the slower side and assisting spin, they had left out Sabbhineni Meghana, one of the specialist batters in the squad.
And it did not take long to see the spinners in action. As Deepti Sharma provided the second breakthrough in the seventh over, it was spinners dominating from both ends as Harmanpreet used as many as eight bowling options (six spinners), including herself — something she had spoken about ahead of the tour. Sri Lanka was eventually bundled out for 171 in 48.2 overs with Deepti and Renuka Singh Thakur picking three wickets each.
Then came the long-standing issue with Indian batting. With runs superseding roles in the selection, India’s top six, barring Harmanpreet, bat at the top order for their respective domestic teams. While the Indian skipper had acknowledged it before the series, she had said it is what it is at the moment and the players will have to adapt based on the team's needs.
As India slumped to 130/5, succumbing to the Lankan spin attack after Harmanpreet’s 63-ball 44, Deepti (22 n.o), among the few with ample international experience of playing different roles for India over the years, held fort at one end and took the team home along with Pooja Vastrakar (21 n.o) in 38 overs.
India has begun the post-Mithali ODI journey with a victory, but as for the ‘process’ they are being vocal about, one will have to wait and see how they walk the talk.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 171 all out in 48.2 ovs (Nilakshi 43, Deepti 3/25, Renuka 3/29) lost to India 176/6 in 38 ovs (Harmanpreet 44, Shafali 35; Ranaweera 4/39).