The India women’s cricket team will take on Australia in a 7-match multi-format series starting on Tuesday, 21st September.
The India women’s tour of Australia 2021 which kicks off with the first ODI at Mackay in Queensland on September 21 will hold exciting and important cricket over the coming month carving through their recent rivalry, opportunity to play a historic day and night Test, close contextual timeframe to the ODI World Cup and the teams’ desire to improve and gain accolades in the constantly growing world of women’s cricket.
Post the defeat to Australia in the finals of the T20 WC 2020, India have improved massively with rising focus on fitness and skill development along with structured addressing of the team’s shortcomings.
The Indian team will be looking forward to this series as an opportunity to battle against the best and fine tune their preparations before the start the of the 50-Over WC set to be held in New Zealand during early March 2021.
“We’ll get to know where we stand when we play the best” – Mithali Raj
India captain Mithali Raj, in the pre-series conference, resonated the overarching sentiment behind this tour when she said, “Australia is going to be a tough and a good tour for us before the World Cup, because we are playing against the best, we will know where we stand and we’ll also get to know our team composition and will be good game time for the team (us).”
Unlike 2020, the Indian team has been in good nick playing cricket through the year and arrive in Australia post an extensive series in England and later a 15-day conditioning camp in Bengaluru, whereas the hosts played their last international game against New Zealand in April. Star players in Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, and Shafali Verma were also part of The Hundred post the England stint.
India’s emphasis on widening fast-bowling contingent
In the months leading up to the WC, repeated emphasis has been drawn on two things: widening the fast-bowling contingent and improving middle-overs batting. With the same in mind, India have called up two uncapped bowlers in Railways medium-pacer Meghna Singh and a bowling all-rounder Renuka Singh from Himachal Pradesh along with left-hand batter Yastika Bhatia from Baroda.
India’s left-arm spinner, Rajeshwari Gayakwad also comes back post knee injury and COVID-19 recovery. The two younger seamers, Pooja Vastrakar and Arundhati Reddy will continue to be part of the squad and will hope to compliment experienced pacers in Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey.
“Jhulan needs support from other pacers” – India Head Coach, Ramesh Powar
Head coach Ramesh Powar, in the pre-series conference, said, "We have to have support for Jhulan Goswami. If she is consistent over a period of time, we need to find her a partner who can bowl in partnership so that we can get the desired results.”
"In the fast-bowling department, we are looking for consistency so that Jhulan can express herself. Because of lack of partnership, she is defensive which we don't want as a team. And we are giving her that support," he added.
Along with Jhulan, Australia will be wary of leg-spinner Poonam Yadav who has a good record against the hosts, the most notable of which were the four consecutive wickets taken in the first game of the T20 World Cup last year.
Improving middle-overs batting, reducing dot ball percentage key before WC
Meanwhile in the batting department, improvement in middle-overs batting particularly strike rotation and dot ball percentage have been India’s key concerns. In the recently concluded series against England, all middle-order bats excluding Mithali Raj failed to produce any impactful performance. Although Mithali has been influential in preventing batting collapses, with three well-made half-centuries in each of the ODIs, other bats need to support her to help build partnerships and pose challenging totals of at least 250-plus.
India will hope for Harmanpreet Kaur to come good
Harmanpreet Kaur has been recovering from a quadriceps injury and India will hope for her to come good while the likes of Taniya Bhatia and Deepti Sharma should play more freely and help up the ante. There is a rising need to implement changes in the team’s overall approach, especially in the middle and death overs.
Post the England series, Powar said "They've been playing differently. To get them out of it, I need to convince them. It took time this time around. In this game [third T20I against England], we were 28 for 2 after five overs but ended up with 153. We discussed that we would play fearless cricket no matter what. If you don't, every team will dominate you.”
While players from the opposition have praised the recent changes, Australia left-handed bat Beth Mooney, while speaking to ABC said, "India have come a long way in their consistency. They challenged England recently and they've got some pretty powerful hitters like Shafali Verma in their top order.”
As India look to correct and fine tune its team and approach, the hosts will be playing with a depleted side in the absence of their premier quick bowler in Megan Schutt, along with Tayla Vlaeminck and key spinner Jess Jonassen.
Australia are currently on the longest-winning streak in the one-day format with 22 wins on the trot and will look to keep it going despite the long break in play.
The first ODI match is set to start on Tuesday, September 21 in Mackay at 5:35 am IST. The other two ODIs will also be played in Mackay on September 24 and 27.
The Only Test which will be played in a day-night format will be played between India and Australia in Carrara between September 30 – October 3.
The T20I series will be played between the two sides between October 7 and October 11 in Carrara.