Cricket

India women vs South Africa women: From lacklustre middle order to misfiring pacers, hosts' problems persist despite T20I series win

  • Abhishek Mukherjee
  • October 5th, 2019
  • 22:22:44 IST

Coming into the final T20I, India Women had already taken a 3-0 lead in the series. They conceded 175 and were bowled out for 70, their lowest score of all time. The margin of defeat, 105 runs, is their largest while chasing. However, the sixth match was a last-minute addition to make up for the two abandoned matches in the series. Had it not been arranged hastily, India would have finished the series undefeated.

Of course, one must remember here that while India fielded a full-strength team in the first three matches, South Africa were without three of their biggest names, in Dane van Niekerk, Marizanne Kapp, and Chloe Tryon. As a result, both their bowling and middle order were depleted considerably.

But despite all that, a 3-1 margin is reasonably comprehensive. However, there are a few points worth mentioning here.

Batters of both sides struggled on slow, low pitches where the spinners got going with the new ball. However, thanks to their performance in their last T20I, South Africa outdid India in series aggregate: they scored at 6.26 an over to India’s 6.12. The only three fifties scored in the series were by the South Africans – Mignon du Preez, Lizelle Lee, and Sune Luus.

Of course, these numbers can be brushed aside as a one-off, for India Women did dominate the first 3 T20Is. However, it cannot be denied that India do lack batting firepower when compared to other teams.

Here are the batting strike rates for the top six partnerships (not batting positions) from the start of the 2018 World T20:

Table 1 825

The dip is evident. For the top four partnerships, India have done better than most teams (including England, albeit marginally). This is also when their main three batters – Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur – have batted.

However, they slow down significantly once the first four wickets fall. While New Zealand do even better than Australia (who seem to score at 8 runs an over throughout their innings) at this stage, India’s run rate drops significantly.

This is also where they fall behind England by 0.58 runs an over despite scoring at slightly quicker for the first four wickets.

Note: Interestingly, Pakistan have followed an exactly opposite approach, batting almost sluggishly at the start before their big hitters come out.

Here are the performances of active Indian batters with 50 runs over the same time period:

Table 2 825

The reason for the dip is clear. Kaur, Mandhana, and Rodrigues have inevitably been part of the first four partnerships. The advent of Shafali Verma will only boost the top.

On the other hand, Deepti Sharma and Veda Krishnamurthy have not quite been as prolific down the order. They have scored at under 90 and have found boundaries (both fours and sixes) difficult to come by. Remember, they almost always bat in the final overs, when most teams have batters who throw their bats around.

Of course, Sharma’s excellent bowling makes her indispensable. However, while she is an excellent ODI batter, whether she scores quickly enough to bat in the top six in 20-over cricket is another question.

What about bowlers? Here are how they have fared over the same period:

Table 3 825

The Indians have gone for 6.54 an over, comfortably worse than the cluster where the top four belong. If South Africa’s presence is surprising, one must remember that they have the worst batting run rate of the group as well.

However, what makes India’s situation even worse is the performance of the pacers. Not only are they the second worst (ahead of only Pakistan), they have also bowled only 24% of the overs, the fewest among the teams. Unfortunately, the pacers will have to do much more than of the bowling in Australia than they had to in India or in the West Indies.

These are their top bowlers (with a 15-over cut-off):

Table 4 825

Shikha Pandey has been India’s standout bowler of the season, but she is the only pacer to have gone for under 8 an over.

Arundhati Reddy and Mansi Joshi, the only others to have bowled over 15 overs during this period, were not picked till the final (and inconsequential) T20I of the South Africa series. Pooja Vastrakar, who played in the first three matches, bowled only four wicketless overs, conceding 30.

Some changes are probably in order, and time is running out for India Women.

Updated Date: October 05, 2019 22:22:44 IST

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