Humbled in ODIs, India Women look to bounce back against Australia in T20 series

For Harmanpreet Kaur's side, plenty will be at stake after a 0-3 hammering

Sheyanka Patil India's Sheyanka Patil (C) celebrates the dismissal of Australia's Ashleigh Gardner | AP

With an eye on the T20 World Cup later this year, the Indian women's cricket team will be vying for all-round improvement against six-time world champions Australia when the two sides clash in a three-match series starting on Friday.

For the Harmanpreet Kaur-led Indian side, plenty will be at stake after a 0-3 hammering against Australia in the recently-concluded ODI series, having earlier lost a three-match T20I series to England.

The historic wins in the one-off Test each against England and Australia notwithstanding, Harmanpreet's side has a lot of ground to cover in white-ball cricket to improve its dismal record against Australia.

If their horrendous fielding in the second ODI cost India the game by a mere three runs, the batters cut a sorry figure on a perfect deck to be bowled out for 148 after Australia piled up a record 338/8 in the third ODI.

India lost the opening ODI by six wickets since none of the bowlers could impose themselves on a long Australian batting order.

The hosts dropped a total of eight catches in the last two matches and erred quite a bit in their DRS calling too.

India's batting also did not inspire much confidence even though they were playing in their own backyard.

The batters lacked initiative to attack, their power-game left much to be desired and a collective plan was never seen when it came to taking down the opposition's bowling.

Harmanpreet's form continued to be a concern with India skipper enduring a forgettable run.

Harmanpreet could only manage 17 runs in three ODIs against Australia. The poor run was a reflection of her woeful run of form as she has six single-digit scores across formats in her last nine outings and none of them is in excess of fifty.

Jemimah Rodrigues and Richa Ghosh were India's stars in the ODIs but there has been lack of big scores from the top half.

Smriti Mandhana has only one fifty to show in this home season and has failed to convert starts on a consistent basis.

It remains to be seen if India will pair Yastika Bhatia with Mandhana at the top as they did in the ODIs or with Shafali Verma, who scored 52 at the start of the season against England.

In complete contrast, two of Australia's batters Phoebe Litchfield and Tahlia McGrath have struck three consecutive fifties each across two formats.

India's new ball pair of Renuka Singh Thakur and Pooja Vastrakar also could not find much purchase off the wickets or conditions at the Wankhede Stadium, but playing on fresher decks at the DY Patil Stadium under lights will give them a chance to get the ball talking again.

For Australia, this tour has witnessed the ascension of the young Litchfield, who flayed India with the bat in the ODIs, striking two fifties and a ton to establish herself as one to watch out for.

Australia, who have won each of the last three T20I World Cups, have looked to imbibe their learnings from this India tour, which is serving their dominant bunch of players a perfect opportunity for the next global competitions in the subcontinent.

Bangladesh will host the T20 World Cup in September-October this year and India will organise the next 50-overs World Cup in 2025.

Alyssa Healy's side has made its share of mistakes but Australia also know how to turn the tables around with their sharp fielding, which was on display in the ODIs even though they dropped a few.

All-rounder Grace Harris will come into the Australian squad which aims to repeat its performance of the T20I series in 2022. The team beat India 4-1 in a five-match series.

In fact, that tied game here at the DY Patil Stadium separates two long phases of defeats for India five and four matches lost in a row respectively against Australia in T20Is.

For that matter, India have only six wins to show from 31 matches while Australia have won 23 and one game tied, a stat which makes it clear that Harmanpreet's side has its task cut out yet again.

Squads: 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, Kanika Ahuja, Minnu Mani.

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

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