Lack of preparation was behind the Indian women cricket team's 4-0 drubbing in the one-day internationals against England last week, felt captain Mithali Raj.
“The girls probably prepared in the same way as they did for the Asia Cup (which India won in Sri Lanka in May),” Mithali told HT from Hyderabad on Sunday.
“They were not challenged in the Asia Cup as the other teams were not up to the mark. The fielders too, several of them were making their debut, were not tested. Challenged in England, the players found it difficult to adjust in the conditions. Now they know what to expect from stronger teams like England and Australia.”
Mithali said failure of the openers (Sulakshana Naik and Jaya Sharma) put pressure on the middle order. “I did not find England's bowling to be penetrative,” said the Hyderabad middle order batswoman, who was India's best player on tour. “I could not understand why the girls folded up meekly. It was one of the best wickets to bat on. I enjoyed both my half-centuries (at Taunton). Their bowlers were ordinary but very disciplined unlike ours,” she said on the team's low scores (126 for two being the best total in the third ODI).
Mithali made her international debut in England in 1999 and marked her fifth tour to the country by playing her 100th ODI. In 103 ODI appearances, the skipper has accumulated 3164 runs. She topped the batting charts among the teams in this series, totalling 162 in four innings at an average of 81.00.
The 25-year-old said the lack of cricket needed quick redressal. “England were a much improved side since we played them in the quadrangular in 2007. They have been playing more cricket while we played just the Asia Cup,” she said.
The Indians will face sterner tests when they tour Australia for five ODIs and a T20 match. The matches are scheduled in Sydney and Canberra from October 28 to November 9. The squad will be chosen after 21-24 September Challengers in Ahmedabad.
“Australia are not really tough but they have been in fine nick this season. Once you are in good run, whatever you do tends to work,” said Mithali.
Sounding a warning, she said, “Before Australia, we have to regroup. We need to work on our opening partnership so that the middle order is not pressurised,” she said. Dwelling on the key to her consistency, Mithali, who trains with male players, said, “The reasons have a lot to do with the way I play. I read the opponents, know which bowlers to pick, go through their records and study how to score runs off them. The preparation gives me an insight.”