Press Trust of india

1054 dot balls in 7 games: How women cricketers need to change and hit the ground running

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The BCCI might have been blamed in the past for the lack of focus on women’s cricket and they certainly need to walk the talk but the problem goes beyond them. India can blame the misfortune of a no-ball against South Africa for their ouster, but they also contributed to their own downfall.

Archaic batting templates, worrying number of dot balls, frequent changes in the playing XI, lack of athleticism and some uninspiring captaincy meant last edition’s losing finalists failed to qualify for the semi-final stage.

Old template

Other top teams like Australia, England and South Africa have moved on from the outdated approach to white ball cricket. The Indian team have stepped on to that path, but are moving too slowly towards playing this new brand of cricket.

Sample their chase against New Zealand, who set a 261-run target. India played out 85 dot balls in the first 20 overs; all in all, they remained mute for 153 balls. Not that this is just a World-Cup aberration. Last June, they played out 181 dot balls in a game against England. The alarm bells were ringing but it appears no one was listening.

Former captain Anjum Chopra reckons India lacks the ammunition and the expertise in strike rotations. “Top teams have certainly moved on regarding big-hitting and strike rotations. In the case of India, my answer will be both Yes and No.

“Yes, because we are still trying to get into that template, where we can score 280 plus consistently or chase down big totals. We are still trying to figure out and be consistent about reaching these scores whether batting or chasing,” Anjum Chopra told The Indian Express.

“No, because strike rotation and big-hitting has been the challenge for many years for India now. Big-hitting has slightly improved, but that power-hitting in the last five and seven overs is still missing. I guess we are still moving slowly and steadily towards the brand of cricket,” she added of the glacial pace of upgrading.

Dot-ball problem

India’s biggest nemesis at the World Cup was their sluggish approach. Overall, they played 1054 dot balls in the seven matches. In other words, they played almost three ODIs without scoring a single run. Australia, the most dominating side of the tournament, consumed 959 dot balls in the round-robin league, 95 fewer than India. Interestingly, when it comes to power-hitting, India leads the six-hitting chart. Their batters struck 15 sixes, the most in the tournament. But other scoring shots were found wanting.

Anjum, who was the commentator with the host broadcaster during the World Cup, feels that Indian batters need to update their skills.

“The approach is straightforward. Reduce the dot ball percentage. The Indian team plays a lot of dot balls, and there is too much reliance on dead defence shots. I guess the few aspects on which Team India must work are rotation of strike, playing with soft hands, improving the running between the wickets, dropping the ball, and running for a quick single. These skills have to be practiced and learned very seriously. The Indian team has stroke players, but they cannot rotate strike at will. That skill has to be incorporated whether they are setting the target or chasing,” said Anjum.

Lack of athleticism

India’s ground fielding throughout the event was far from impressive. They fumbled and dropped regulation chances. There was room for improvement in running between the wicket too. Senior batters were struggling to run twos and threes. Shafali Verma’s run out in the crucial match against South Africa highlighted the problem.

“Look, the Indian team is obviously working on the fitness aspect. It is not that they are unfit players, but fitness and fielding are something you can always work on. Even if you are super fit and a gun fielder, there’s always a scope for improvement, sky’s the limit, and there is no benchmark. Every player has to improve individually, and the results will be out there at the park,” said Anjum.

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