Analysis | CWG 22 | M#1 - IND v AUS
Written By: Jeet Vachharajani
Picture Courtesy: Cricket Queens
We got the expected result, but not in the manner in which we expected. India succumbed to a 3-wicket loss to Australia after putting in a stellar fight to have the T20 champions reeling at 49/5 with the big guns in Alyssa Healy, Meg Lanning, Beth Mooney, Tahlia McGrath, & Rachael Haynes back in the hut. These are the same batters who have been tormenting opponents for a while because of which we rarely get to see someone like Megan Schutt or Darcie Brown walk out to bat. Today was no different. We didn't see them walking out today either as Ashleigh Gardner, Grace Harris, & Alana King took over the mantle of getting the job done.
India were bound to struggle in certain areas which were recognized right at the time when the squad was announced. The same things were put into practice in this game & the outcome was also what most of them expected. From Yastika Bhatia's selection over Richa Ghosh, lack of pacers, Radha Yadav's selection - The list goes on! Here are a few things I noted that had an influence on the game at some or other stage.
#1 - Radha Yadav's selection over Sneh Rana
With India missing the services of Pooja Vastrakar, India had to pick an extra spinner who can bat. There were two options - Sneh Rana & Radha Yadav with the latter getting the nod.
While the rationale behind such a call could be the fact that Radha would've bowled in the middle-overs when Australia's RHBs would be in the middle for most of the time. But this did not make much sense on any counts. Radha is facing a dip in form for a while & it was Rajeshwari Gayakwad's 2 overs that got compromised despite her being a better bowler. Rana might have been a better pick for India in this game as LHB-RHBs don't matter much to her style of bowling. Not to forget, the crucial batting runs she could have added for India in the first innings.
If we cast our minds back to the CWC encounter earlier this year, it was Gayakwad & Rana who had done a decent job despite Australians managing to chase down 278. It was a selection error.
It wasn't for the first time - It won't be for the last time!
#2 - Anchors getting pushed to finishers' role
Jemimah Rodrigues is a good #3 bat & Harleen Deol is a good #4 bat. With Yastika Bhatia in the side, both were pushed down. Harmanpreet promoted herself keeping the situation in mind and the fact that the spinners were operating.
This led to Jemimah walking in at #5 & Harleen at #7 and having to play a role that doesn't come naturally to either of them. India had their lineup sorted before the squad blunders. Richa, who is a good #6 batter was not selected & Yastika was picked which eventually saw the key batters batting out of their preferred position.
The duo is capable of striking clean, but they need a few deliveries to get going. That's when we look at India's lineup and realize that the batters who batted from #3 to #7, all require a few balls to get going. This meant that India were bereft of someone who can come in & smash from Ball 1.
India's adjustment to the absence of Richa Ghosh, Pooja Vastrakar, & Sneh Rana was evident. These three should be the designated sloggers & finishers who are capable of walking in & scoring runs from the get-go.
#3 - India's setup to Meg Lanning
India got their act together against Meg Lanning after a debacle in the CWC where they allowed her to score runs freely by giving free access to her favorite area of the ground.
India finally put a point & a backward point in place for Lanning & Renuka nailed her line & length. That is all that was required as a cut shot from Lanning was always coming. It's a ploy that I have talked about quite a few times, especially after seeing New Zealand dish out the same tactic in the CWC.
You always play with the ego of the best batters. You challenge them to play their favorite shot - But work it to your advantage by charting the right plans & setting the right field. Virat Kohli likes the cover drive, and he is always challenged in England to do that when there is movement on offer for the bowlers. It works, and it did against Lanning too!
#4 - Alyssa Healy's downward spiral
Arguably, one of the best T20 batters ever has struggled to get out of the shell for a while. Healy's downfall has been rather concerning over the last few years. Her last impactful knock came against India in the T20 World Cup Final.
The struggle has been so immense that she has barely managed to register a double-digit score since 2020. In 23 innings that she has batted, she has been dismissed 17 times for a single-digit score. In fact, in the last two years, she has just scored 52 runs in 12 innings at an average of 5.2.
However, I am confident that if there is a time & venue which will bring out the best from Healy, then it is CWG & Edgbaston!
#5 - India's call to not open with Deepti Sharma
I expected India to open with a pace-spin combination in their defense of 154 runs. But, they opted to dish out pacers from either end which was possibly influenced by Renuka Singh swinging the ball in the 1st over & getting rid of Healy early.
It should have ideally been Deepti Sharma sharing the new-ball duties as she is very good in keeping things tight and that is what was required in the PP. While Renuka kept picking up wickets, the bowler from the other end kept leaking runs. That bowler was never Deepti until the 6th over!
1st over (Renuka Singh): 7 runs + wicket
2nd over (Meghna Singh): 13 runs
3rd over (Renuka Singh): 1 run + 2 wickets
4th over (Rajeshwari Gayakwad): 13 runs
5th over (Renuka Singh): 4 runs + wicket
6th over (Deepti Sharma): 3 runs
It was a constant case of a wicket being picked in one over only for the pressure to be released in the next. So why not Deepti to open rather than her being given the 6th over?
#6 - India's team balance & tactics played into Gardner & Grace's hands
India's bad selections & the unfortunate absence of Pooja Vastrakar meant that India had only 8 overs of pace available for this game. And they decided to bowl 6 of them within the first 9 overs of the innings.
While Renuka was doing her job & the call to give her 4 overs upfront was correct, the risk India ran was of not having a go-to pace option when the spinners are being attacked. This again would have been solved if Deepti took the new ball and bowled 2 overs in the PP!
What this meant was India had the two batters that they wouldn't want to have when the spinners are operating - Ashleigh Gardner & Grace Harris! Both are destructive batters with the capability of clearing the fence with ease against the spinners & that's exactly what they did.
While Gardner is decent against pace, Grace still has a slight vulnerability. To no surprise, Grace was dismissed straightaway when Meghna Singh was brought back into the attack. Unfortunately for India, the damage was done!