India women’s head coach Ramesh Powar said the team had achieved the goal of developing a pace battery to support Jhulan Goswami ahead of the World Cup.
“After coming back from the UK tour, we set some goals. We were looking at fast bowlers to support Jhulan. The way Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar and Renuka Singh bowled in the two T20Is was the objective. Find a pace battery which we can invest in, and we can carry on with those players into the World Cup,” he said during the post-match interaction after the third and final T20I against Australia, which India lost by 14 runs on Sunday to concede the multi-format series by 11-5 margin.
Australia won four out of the six white-ball games.
Vastrakar, who returned to international cricket earlier this year in June, impressed in the multi-format series, picking nine wickets in six matches, including four in the pink-ball Test. Debutant Meghna picked one wicket in three ODIs at an economy rate of 4.85, while also getting two scalps in the Test. Renuka, making her international debut in the T20I series, picked one wicket in two matches but gave little away at 6.25 an over.
Powar said that the tour helped in testing the team’s skills ahead of the World Cup next year and the players had shown character even in defeat. “We stand at a juncture where Mithali and Jhulan are almost going to fade away at some point. Getting into the England tour and the Australia tour, mainly for young cricketers like Renuka, Meghna, Jemimah. it makes a huge difference. You will be tested against the best and show your skill here and you can go forward and build your career from here. We wanted to test our players, and this was the best opportunity, the England and Australia tour,” he said.
Powar said that opener Mandhana delivered on the demand for more consistency after the first ODI and that a player of her calibre was bound to find form sooner than later.
Mandhana was in sublime form throughout the series, scoring 352 runs in seven innings at 50.28, including two fifties and a historic hundred in India’s first pink-ball Test match.
“She has been a consistent performer for us. A patch will come where a player will not score runs. But as a unit, we back our players. We knew that she would turn up good on this tour. We just wanted her to spend some time in the middle. The way she batted in the Test match was amazing. Something all of us will take a lot of pride in,” he said.
“We are looking at her as a leader. She has been vice-captain. At some point she will lead this side,” Powar added, hinting at a possible transition in captaincy after the World Cup.
Stressing on the importance of consistency in selection decisions, the coach said the administration was actively scouting players to find the right fit across formats.
“There is no surety of players. We want to make a healthy competition in our squad — that was the motto for this tour. Don’t take your place for granted. If you perform and you’re not consistent enough playing your primary roles, you will be sidelined. Everyone was given a chance at the correct time. We must move on and give chances to players who were knocking at the door before. We wanted to give Yastika a chance because we thought she is a left-hander, and she made a difference in this series,” he said.
Meghna, Richa, Yastika and Renuka made their international debuts in the tour. Yastika proved her acumen as an anchor in the middle-overs, while Richa played a few crucial cameos lower down the order.