Desperate India aim to end losing streak in NZ tour
PTI | DC Correspondent
India suffered a second successive three-wicket loss to hosts New Zealand in the third game to concede the five-ODI series
Queenstown: The series already out of its grasp, a desperate Indian women's cricket team will look to snap the losing streak and salvage some pride by sorting its bowling and fielding woes in the fourth ODI against New Zealand here on Tuesday.
India suffered a second successive three-wicket loss to hosts New Zealand in the third game to concede the five-ODI series.
It was yet another limited-overs series loss for the Indian team, following the defeats to South Africa at home and in England and Australia in the last 12 months.
In the ongoing rubber, if batting let the team down in the one-off T20I and the first ODI, it was the bowlers and fielders who failed to keep things under control in the last two matches as the New Zealand side successfully chased down big totals.
With the World Cup looming, Mithali Raj's team will have to iron out the flaws in the next two ODIs and the return of star opener Smriti Mandhana and pacer Meghna Singh will bolster the team as it looks to get some momentum ahead of the big-ticket event.
In the bowling department, veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami was the only bright spot in the 3rd ODI as she rocked the top-order with three wickets but she lacked support as New Zealand recovered from 171 for 6 to chase down 280 with five balls to spare.
With Meghna back, India will look to field a strong and settled pace attack in the remaining two ODIs after experimenting with Pooja Vastrakar, Simran Bahadur and Renuka Singh.
Among spinners, Deepti Sharma has shone bright with seven scalps, including a four-wicket haul in the second ODI, but the likes of Poonam Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad will have to put up more consistent shows.
India's batting has looked good with Sabbhineni Meghana grabbing the opportunity with both hands, hitting 49 and 61 in the last two ODIs in Mandhana's absence. Shafali Verma also returned to form with a 57-ball 51 in the third game.
With Mandhana back, it will be interesting to see the combination that skipper Mithali fields in the next two ODIs, especially with Harmanpreet Kaur struggling to get runs in the middle.
New Zealand, on the other hand, have been working like a well-oiled machine. The hosts are high on confidence after chasing two big scores but one area they would like to improve is bowling in the final two games.
Amelia Kerr (219) and Suzie Bates (127) have been their best batters with each hitting a hundred in the first two games.
If the two have provided solidity at the top order, Amy Satterthwaite has been impressive in the middle with 122 runs in the series so far.
In the third ODI, it was Lauren Down and Katey Martin who showed their prowess down the order, stitching a match-winning 76-run stand for the seventh wicket.
In bowling, Jess Kerr and regular skipper Sophie Devine have been their most successful bowlers with five and four wickets respectively but the hosts allowed the Indians to score big totals and they will have to pull their socks up in the next two games.
India: Sabbhineni Meghana, Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Mithali Raj (captain), Harmanpreet Kaur, Richa Ghosh (wk), Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Simran Bahadur, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Sneh Rana, Meghna Singh, Taniya Bhatia, Renuka Singh, Smriti Mandhana, Jhulan Goswami.
New Zealand: Sophie Devine, Suzie Bates, Amelia Kerr, Amy Satterthwaite (c), Maddy Green, Katey Martin (wk), Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Fran Jonas, Lea Tahuhu, Lauren Down, Frances Mackay, Hannah Rowe.
Match starts 3.30 am IST.