After Test triumph, India women target powerhouse Australia in ODIs | Cricket


With the next ODI World Cup two years away and a T20 World Cup in 2024, it is perhaps difficult to find context for the three-match ODI series between India and Australia starting at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday. However, for Harmanpreet Kaur’s team, getting to test a young side against the most formidable team in women’s cricket will be a great opportunity.

India's Harmanpreet Kaur(PTI)
India’s Harmanpreet Kaur(PTI)

In the last 15 months, India have played just three ODIs (drawn series in Bangladesh, July). They can, however, take confidence from the Test wins against England and Australia in a span of 11 days this month.

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“We’re looking forward to the ODI series,” India head coach Amol Muzumdar said at a press conference on Wednesday. “We’ll try to take the momentum forward (from the Test wins). Everyone is keen and looking forward to the white-ball leg. It’s a good start, but we need to carry it forward.”

“The Test wins set off a spark. A fillip that other cricketers, women, in the country will get. It will help us play ODI and T20 cricket better. Because the purest form of the game will always be very sacred. I’ve always believed that if you can play Test cricket, you can play any other format. It will help women in India to take up the game and look up to red-ball cricket; it also gives us a platform to play better white-ball cricket,” the former domestic batting stalwart from Mumbai said.

There are four uncapped players – Shreyanka Patil, Titas Sadhu, Saika Ishaque and Mannat Kashyap – in India’s 16-member squad.

Head-to-head in ODIs, India are 10-40 against Australia. At home, they’re 4-17 against the world champions in both white-ball formats.

“They have been a consistent team for a long period, that’s why they’ve won so many World Cups in T20s and ODIs. We need to focus inward, on our strengths. Our focus needs to be what we should do to come up well against the best side in the world,” Muzumdar said.

“We’ve had a look at the bigger picture. At the same time, we are careful not to lose sight of the day-to-day games we have… We will look to improve from every given opportunity and every day, and if we can do that I will be very happy.”

Muzumdar hailed Harmanpreet, who led in Tests for the first time, making crucial contributions with bat and ball.

“She (Harmanpreet) is the glue of the team. The team rallies around her and looks up to her. She is happy to share her experience with the younger players.

“Harman is in a league of her own. She is an inspiration not just within the squad or in the dressing room but for millions outside looking forward to her bat, bowl, field and captain. She’s got the aura.”

The Alyssa Healy-led Australia, who have played 12 ODIs this year, beat West Indies 2-0 at home in October. The record seven-time ODI World Cup winners are in transition after Meg Lanning’s retirement in November and will be keen to bounce back after a rare Test defeat.

“India are a huge threat in white-ball cricket, they’ve had a lot of success over the last couple of years and have some world class players,” said batter Beth Mooney. “We know they’re going to play on the crowd a little bit as well, and we get too right up and about when there’s a decent crowd. Hopefully we can keep them quiet as early as possible; that will be a big factor in the series.

“It’s about trying to get as much learnings as possible. We want to take as much out of this series and from our Bangladesh tour in April. We’ve taken a little bit of insight from our men’s team that was here for the ODI World Cup (they won the title, beating India in the final), which has been really helpful. Hopefully, we can finetune a few things over the next six months before the T20 World Cup.”

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