The last time India played as a team was in February, although there was the Women’s Premier League after that.
However, India were overwhelming favorites for the white-ball tour of Bangladesh. However, the ultimate score of 1-1 in the ODIs and 2-1 in the T20I series, where they were pressed to the limit, was a wake-up call.
Similar to their tour of England last year, India’s stay in Bangladesh ended in acrimony, with the pitch, umpiring quality, and captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s dubious behavior taking center stage.
Before a hectic season that includes the Asian Games and multi-format series at home against Australia and England, India was left with much to consider after the conclusion of the tour.
These are especially pertinent considering that Bangladesh will host the next T20 World Cup in 2024.
There are questions over the lower-middle order.
The Bangladesh tour was an occasion for India to discover a batsman who could contribute in the lower order without Richa Ghosh.
However, on sluggish burners in Dhaka during T20Is, India’s Nos. 5 through 8 averaged just 8.75 as India failed to post significant totals batting first.
In T20Is, India utilized Yastika Bhatia, Amanjot Kaur, Deepti Sharma, Harleen Deol, and Pooja Vastrakar in these positions, and all of them struggled to score against the spinners.
In the one-day internationals, India shifted Yastika to No. 3 and Jemimah Rodrigues to the middle order.
In contrast to Rodrigues, who scored a career-high 86 in the second game and an unbeaten 33 in the final ODI that ended in a stalemate, Yastika scored 15, 15, and 5 in the three games. In the third ODI, Deol scored her second half-century from the No. 4 position.
In the ODI series, India’s use of Vastrakar with the bat sent mixed signals. She was demoted to No. 10 in the first ODI before being omitted from the final two matches.
Even Sneh Rana, who was only selected for ODIs, was preferred to Vastrakar in that encounter. While Rana can be quite adept with the bat, she is not as powerful a striker as Vastrakar.
Harmanpreet and Mani impress, whereas Mandhana’s returns are meager.
In recent years, India has relied on Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur, and Deepti Sharma to propel them through difficult run chases, and to rescue them out of difficult circumstances with the ball and bat, respectively.
While Harmanpreet scored fifties in the first T20I and the second ODI, Deepti helped restrict Bangladesh to 87 runs during their pursuit of 96 in the second T20I.
Her highest score during the tour was 20; however, her batting left much to be desired. Only in the final ODI of the tour was Mandhana able to score a half-century.
However, India should be pleased with Minnu Mani’s performance in the Twenty20 Internationals. In spite of her batsmanship being underutilized, she took five wickets at 11.60 over the course of three games, predominantly with the new ball.
B Anusha and Rashi Kanojiya, who debuted during the tour, failed to create a significant impression.
In favorable conditions, Rana and Devika Vaidiya gained ball purchase from the surface, but their batting needs improvement.
This threw a wrench into India’s plans, as the two were favored over Kanojiya and Anusha due to their superior batting abilities.
Getting rid of rhythm
Two years after former head coach Ramesh Powar advocated for expanding the fast-bowling pool, India appears to have abandoned the strategy and returned to their traditional strength: spin.
With four, one, and two wickets in the three ODIs, Bangladesh’s Marufa Akter was the leading wicket-taker among all teams, despite the fact that the conditions did influence the decision to some extent.
India had left-armers Anjali Sarvani and Monica Patel, right-arm seamer Meghna Singh, and all-rounders Vastrakar and Amanjot to choose from in the absence of the injured Renuka Singh.
In the series, only Vastrakar, Meghna, and Amanjot scored runs. Only 42 of the 128.1 overs India bowled over the course of the six contests were delivered by seamers.
Harmanpreet utilized only one over of pace at the end of the T20I and ODI series, Vastrakar in the first T20I and Meghna in the final ODI.
The offspin services of Shafali Verma and Rodrigues were utilized at crucial moments on spin-friendly surfaces at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. Again, this demonstrated India’s lack of tolerance with their seamers.
Consistency, be it in selection matters – Ghosh and Rajeshwari Gayakwad returning for the Asian Games while Vastrakar is demoted to the reserves – or on-field performances, will only benefit the Harmanpreet-led squad that, not too long ago, was challenging the world’s finest.