3rd ODI: Indian women look to avoid clean sweep

Struggling to find their maiden win of the English tour, India will desperately hope that their batters find form to stop England from completing a 3-0 sweep in the final ODI in Worcester on Saturday.

Having lost six out of their last seven ODIs, Mithali Raj & Co will look to stem the rot as the team faces the embarrassment of one-sided defeats in back-to-back series after being thrashed 4-1 by the South African women on home soil.

While the bowlers did put up a much better show in the second ODI, the batters continued to disappoint. In the era of T20 cricket, India played as many as 181 dot balls in the first ODI, and did only slightly better in the second match. It was only senior pacer Jhulan Goswami’s cameo which took the visitors to 221 in the second ODI.

Skipper Mithali Raj has been the only batter in form, having scored fifties in both the games. However, her strike rate-72 off 108 balls in the first ODI, and 59 off 92 balls in the second game- has triggered a debate on whether this sort of a scoring rate can help India win an ODI against England.

The veteran batter now holds the record for having scored the maximum number of fifties (14) in England in the ODIs amongst the Indians-going past Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma (all have scored 13 each) in the last game. She has cracked a record 19 fifties against England. However, the skipper, sitting on 10,000-plus runs, just 12 runs away from English legend Charlotte Edwards’ record for most runs in all formats, would love for her runs to come in a winning cause.
Due to a sprained neck, Mithali couldn’t take the field in the second ODI, as India were led by her deputy Harmanpreet Kaur while fielding. The 38-year-old, though, would be fit to play in the final ODI and trained with the team on Friday, the BCCI informed.

The big concern for India is that both their star batters – Harmanpreet and Smriti Mandhana – are in the midst of a lean patch. Since that epic 171 against Australia in the 2017 World Cup, Harmanpreet hasn’t done anything worth of note in the last four years.

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