India Women’s fielding was below-par against Australia, remains a work in progress: Muzumdar

Indian players celebrate the wicket of Australian batter Phoebe Litchfield during the second ODI match between India Women and Australia Women, at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

India Women’s fielding against Australia in the second ODI was below par, admitted head coach Amol Muzumdar and added that fielding remains a work in progress for the hosts who suffered a ninth consecutive series defeat against the Aussies.

India fought hard with the bat after making several errors in the field — including seven dropped catches — in the first half of the match here on Saturday as the visitors got over the line by three runs.

Australia have never lost an ODI series in India, a record which Alyssa Healy’s side was able to maintain despite Richa Ghosh striking a fabulous 96 off 113 balls with 13 boundaries, after Deepti Sharma returned a five for 38.

“We are in a process of building it up, there is no doubt that our fielding was below par,” Muzumdar told the media in Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium.

“We dropped about six catches. It always happens in a game, even they dropped a few. But having said that, we are still a work in progress. If we get time post this series I’m sure we will try and spend a lot of time on fielding and fitness,” Muzumdar said.

With Ghosh doing a single-handed job towards the end of India’s chase, the think tank, perhaps, made another mistake by not sending Pooja Vastrakar ahead of Amanjot Kaur as the former had scored a fine 62 not out in the first ODI.

Muzumdar defended the decision saying that the team looked at Amanjot as a proper all-rounder at No. 7 and she was expected to do her part well.

“Amanjot, we play her as a proper all-rounder. Her number was at No 7. We stuck to it, we thought that she got a chance in the XI because we believe that she could do the job,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. I don’t think there was a need for change in the batting order. At that time, we felt that it was an appropriate one,” he added.

The India head coach also defended Deepti who struggled to find quick runs towards the end and her slow approach, perhaps, contributed to the adverse result.

Deepti consumed 36 balls for her unbeaten 24 with just one boundary as she could not accelerate at any point.

“At the end of the day, we can all sit and say ‘oh, (by) three runs! We missed out on three runs!’, but there were about 600 balls bowled in that. We can always go back and talk about it in hindsight.

“We fell short by three runs but I would not like to name anyone for the defeat. It’s just a collective effort. Probably one more shot, or one stop in the field could have done the trick,” he said.

Muzumdar said the team is looking to stick with Ghosh at No 3 for a longer run. “(She played a) fantastic knock — what a knock it was under pressure. At No 3, new position for her and she’s just proven why she’s been spoken about so high.

“Probably, a hundred would have been an appropriate one for her but unfortunately got caught and it was a special knock.

“Richa has been at No 3. We believe that she can be a good top-order player. We believe in her talent and you’ve seen what kind of shots she can play and if she can use the first 10 overs and then play according to the situation,” Muzumdar said.

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