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ENG W vs IND W | Can’t really fill the line-up with all-rounders, need to groom batters, admits Mithali Raj

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Mithali Raj during the first ODI


ENG W vs IND W | Can’t really fill the line-up with all-rounders, need to groom batters, admits Mithali Raj

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SportsCafe Desk


Following a drubbing at the hands of the English side, Mithali Raj came hard on the team, stating that they can’t fill the line-up with all-rounders and admitted the need to groom batters. Mithali also stated that there is a clear need for a finisher alongside hinting changes for the second ODI.

India’s approach in the first ODI was rather timid, chewing up 181 dot balls in their first innings, setting up a target of just 202 for the hosts after playing out the entire 50 overs. While they were jolted early, at 27/2, Punam Raut and skipper Mithali Raj’s partnership took India to 83 in 25 overs before a familiar middle-order collapse put them in a dicey position. 

Needing the help of the all-rounders and the lower-order, the women’s team finished the innings with just 202, on a surface where their English counterparts made batting look easy. In the wake of the drubbing loss, Indian skipper Mithali Raj came down hard on the side and insisted that the ODI team can’t be filled with just all-rounders. Mithali also came hard on the batting, stating that there is a need for grooming the batters till she’s around. 

"We can't really fill [the line-up] with allrounders who sort of pitch in bowling or in batting. We need to have batters in the side who'll score runs. If I go at No. 4, I'm also giving an opportunity for the team because I know for a fact that I'm not going to play forever. I also need to groom players in a sense when I am around, and guide them in the middle,” Raj bemoaned in the presser, reported ESPNCricinfo. 

On India’s lacklustre middle-overs approach, the Indian skipper asked for a proactive style of play from the team, adding that there is a need for rotating the strike, reducing the number of dot balls. 

"Clearly, yes, we need to look into that aspect and work on rotating the strike. Having said that, we require at least another top-order batter, in the top five, to get us the runs,” she added.

From the bowling front, on seaming conditions, the Indian pace unit only picked the one wicket, coming from the senior pacer Jhulan Goswami. Mithali insisted that the Indian seam-unit needs a change for the second ODI and added that they have to do the bulk of the job up-front to reduce the pressure on the spinners. 

"Clearly, our seam bowling [combination needs changing]. That puts a lot of pressure if you don't get those wickets. When the spinners come in, a lot of pressure is on them to get wickets and even control runs. It's not that they've done it before, but then [again], they can't do it time and again. Somewhere, I think, we also need to groom our fast-bowling department.

The Indian skipper also insisted that India’s weakness in setting up totals could come costly, especially considering the innate weakness of the bowling unit. 

"So, yes, as a batting unit, along with the batting coach, we need to sit down to find a way where, if we bat first, how we could try to put a total of 250 on the board and where we need to put on the acceleration and how we get our innings to do that,” she added.

Another aspect that has stung the Indian team and their progress is the lack of finishers on the domestic circuit, something that Mithali admitted needs to be fixed, immediately. 

"So, when it comes to finishers or lower-middle order or No. 6 or 7, we clearly don't have players for that particular slot who have scored runs on the domestic circuit, so they walk into the team in that slot we've picked.

"We'll definitely look into the composition of the team and maybe a little more shuffle in our batting order to see that we can improve in things we have not really done well in this game today."

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