India seek recovery from middle-order blues




India's middle-order is their major concern ahead of the second T20I

India’s middle-order is their major concern ahead of the second T20I © Getty

The first T20I in Wellington was a reminder that the Harmanpreet Kaur-led India is still a work in progress. They were 102 for 1 while chasing a target of 160, much thanks to Smriti Mandhana’s fastest T20I half-century for India, but the left-hand opener’s wicket soon gave way to a major collapse, which saw the visitors lose nine wickets for 34 runs. Come the second T20I at the Eden Park in Auckland, India will look to put in an improved show in their bid to keep the three-match series alive.

That India didn’t play Mithali Raj in Wellington only made the defeat more contentious. Harmanpreet said at the presentations how she was looking to build a team for the future and that giving the youngsters a go-ahead was what the times need. Going by that, expect Mithali to sit out again as India go on to test their mettle with an overseas series on the line.

For New Zealand, the victory in Wellington kept their growth curve in the series intact after the hosts had looked out of sorts against a rejuvenated Indian side. New Zealand had lost the first two ODIs to India but roared back with a win in the third, and now have the first T20I in their kitty too.

Sophie Devine was among the runs the other evening, scoring 62 off 48 balls, and will be New Zealand’s key player again on what’s going to be a flat deck on offer at the Eden Park. India, with power-hitters like Mandhana and Harmanpreet, will look to match New Zealand shot for shot.

When: Friday, February 8 at 7:30 AM IST (03:00 PM LOCAL)

Where: Eden Park, Auckland

What to expect: Lots of runs. Short boundaries, flat pitch and a lot more people in the stands – that’s Eden Park in a nutshell. The weather is set to be a fair, and a high of 22 degrees is predicted for the day.

Team news:

New Zealand: All-rounder Frances Mackay walked off the field with a leg injury in the first T20I, and is likely to be replaced by Hayley Jensen or Anna Peterson.

India: The hosts were able to scrape through the visitors’ middle-order the other night but India don’t have enough cover in the squad. If at all, India might ponder bringing Mithali back, but it’s highly unlikely given what they are trying to do, which is to build a team for the future.

What they said:

“Practically, I would say I have to bat till 20 overs that is the best option. The more I bat till 18 overs, we won’t collapse because if the top three or four batters can bat till the 18-20th overs then the rest can revolve around them, so tactically that is what I will try to do” – Smriti Mandhana.

© Cricbuzz


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