Harmanpreet Kaur’s form with bat in focus as India look to salvage pride in final ODI against Australia

The focus is on Indian captain Harmanpreet Kur’s poor batting form even as India seeks to defeat Australia and end a nine-match losing streak

January 01, 2024 01:58 pm | Updated January 10, 2024 07:56 am IST - Mumbai, January 1

India’s Harmanpreet Kaur in action during the first ODI match between India (Women) and Australia (Women) at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Dec 28, 2023.

India’s Harmanpreet Kaur in action during the first ODI match between India (Women) and Australia (Women) at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Dec 28, 2023. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI

India women’s cricket team captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s form with the bat will be in focus as the team looks to salvage pride and end a nine-match losing streak at home against a dominant Australia in the third and final ODI in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Kaur has led her side admirably well in a long home season, with a couple of historic results in the Tests, but, this period has also witnessed her struggle with the bat. She has scored runs in double digits only thrice in eight innings across formats this season, with her highest being 49 against England in the one-off Test last month.

In the historic win against Australia in the one-off Test, Kaur was out for a duck in the first innings and she was not required to bat in the second innings. In the two ODIs against Australia, her scores were 9 and 5. Australia has taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

India have not beaten Australia even once in the 50-over format since February 2007.

Work in progress

While India made the most of the favourable home conditions in the one-off Test match, the home team’s frailties have come to the fore again in white-ball cricket in the last two ODIs. While the Indian team was ordinary with the ball in the first ODI, which they lost by six wickets, Kaur's side dropped as many as seven catches in the second game, as the Australian side get away with a three-run win in the second game.

At the same time, Richa Ghosh’s heroics in the second ODI -- 96 off 113 balls (13 fours) in a stiff chase -- and Jemimah Rodrigues’ consistency (82 and 44) have delivered the goods with the bat for India. Ghosh is India’s new find in No. 3 and to having an aggressive batter in the top order has given the hosts a lot of firepower. The pressure will be on the likes of Amanjot Kaur and Deepti Sharma, who could not finish the game for India, even though the hosts needed to get almost run-a-ball to win in the second ODI.

The cliched old adage of ‘catches win matches’ came to the fore again after India dropped at least seven chances, and head coach Amol Muzumdar admitted after the game that Kaur's team remains a work in progress.

India’s defeat by six wickets in the first ODI and narrowly by three runs in the second extended their plight at home against Australia, whom they have not beaten even once in the 50-over format in the last 16 years since February 2007.

Muzumdar had also confirmed that Sneh Rana would be available for the final ODI after missing the second half of the last game due to a collision with Pooja Vastrakar.

India will host the 2025 Women’s 50-over World Cup and with the core of the squad already determined, the task hereon would be to improve in all departments, particularly fielding.

Australia, on their part, would be keen on putting a better show in the field, after dropping a few regulation chances in the last match, while big runs are awaited from skipper Alyssa Healy. Healy has been scoring in double-digit figures consistently, but a big score has deserted her so far. The team will also expect fireworks from both Phoebe Litchfield and Ellyse Perry who have hit fifties in both the ODIs.

The teams

India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Richa Ghosh (wk), Amanjot Kaur, Shreyanka Patil, Mannat Kashyap, Saika Ishaque, Renuka Singh Thakur, Titas Sadhu, Pooja Vastrakar, Sneh Rana, Harleen Deol.

Australia: Alyssa Healy (c & wk), Darcie Brown, Heather Graham, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney (wk), Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham.

Match starts at 1:30 p.m..

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