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ICC Women’s World T20: Why India’s Middle Order Crisis Could Haunt Them?

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For a team to win a coveted ICC tournament, many factors should contribute towards winning the title.
From finding the art of consistency, every department should come up with equal contributions.
In the upcoming ICC Women’s World T20, nations would be aiming to find the art of balance in their ranks and get the job done.
In the recently-concluded ICC Under-19 World Cup, Team India dominated the show until the final.
The batting revolved around the top order and when it came to the middle order stepping up in the final against Bangladesh, the side missed the trick.
This was also due to a lack of exposure or over-dependency on the top three. In the end, the bowling and the top order heroics weren’t enough.
On the same note, the Indian women’s cricket team cannot afford the same.
The Harmanpreet Kaur-led side is well stocked in bowling and has a quality top four. However, lack of finishers and teeth in that middle order could be the Achilles heel for the side.
Recently, talks have centered around the same and questions remain can India go all the way with a weak middle order.
Star opening batswoman Smriti Mandhana offered her solution.”The best way to support the middle order is for the top order to bat 20 overs,” she was quoted by the ICC. “I think we need to try and bat long as a top-four. The problem will be sorted if we can stay until the 20th over.”
However, practically it isn’t possible that the top order will go on and on in every single match. Things could boil down to crunch situations in knockout matches and that’s when the middle order as expected might falter. It has happened on numerous occasions and things might haunt India. Here we analyze the same.

World T20: India Women are over-dependent on the top four

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The left-handed Mandhana is the cynosure of all eyes in this Indian batting line-up.

The promising batswoman was the highest run-scorer in the recently-concluded T20I tri-series between India, England, and Australia. She got scores of 15, 35, 45, 55 and 66.

In her T20I career so far, the player has amassed 1,667 runs in 71 games at 26.04.

It is a natural phenomenon that the onus will be on Mandhana in the upcoming ICC World T20 to lead India Women’s challenge. She has the pedigree to go on and make an impact on a consistent basis. India Women will be highly dependent on her.

Besides Mandhana, teenagers Shafali Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues will also be crucial. 16-year-old Shafali has the potential to excel.
With 324 runs in 14 games, this is the chance to showcase her attributes. Jemimah at number three is a pivotal force. The 19-year-old has 845 runs in 39 T20Is. The T20I tri-series saw her battle poor form. However, one can expect her to bounce back.
At number four, India Women skipper Harmanpreet remains the most sorted in the middle order. Her experience will have a serious role to play. With 2,156 runs in 109 T20Is, Harmanpreet can excel at the biggest stage.

India Women are struggling in the middle order

Post-Harmanpreet, the Indian women’s cricket team faces its biggest issue.

There is a serious lack of character in the side and when you look at the options, one wonders who will come in and win the side games. This is a department where India are struggling big time. And that’s a major concern.

Wicket-keeper batswoman Taniya Bhatia doesn’t boast of a solid record. With just 139 runs in 45 T20Is, Bhatia has faltered mainly due to a lack of exposure.

With an average of 8.68 from 19 innings, the numbers are worrying for the player. To be a keeper-batsman and batting post number seven is a luxury too costly.

The responsibility then falls on all-rounder Deepti Sharma. She has been assigned the number five role and of late, Deepti has improved.

But does she possess the natural instincts? 27-year-old Veda Krishnamurthy possesses experience with 71 T20Is under her belt. How a lack of composure is her biggest flaw. Her recent scores of 1, 38, 35, 7, 8, 2 and 5 tell you why.

Other options present such as Harleen Deol and all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar lack the desired experience at this level.

India have fallen victim to middle-order collapses of late

The India Women’s middle order has failed to live up to expectations and in pivotal moments of a tournament, the side has failed to show the winning mentality.

Three major instances come in the form of the ICC Women’s 2017 World Cup, the 2018 World T20 and the recent defeat against Australia in the final of the T20I tri-series as well.

This suggests a familiar pattern which the team has failed to address. In the 2017 World Cup finale against England, India were 191/3 at one stage in pursuit of 229.

From there on, they still managed to collapse. The last seven wickets fell for 28 runs as India were bowled out (219/10) in 48.4 overs.

In 2018, the side managed to reach the semi-final of the ICC World T20. In the match against England, the Women in Blue were 89/2 at one stage after batting first.
With around six overs left, one expected a flourish. However, they were stunned to be all out for 112. Losing eight scalps for 23 runs was not what the doctor ordered.
And in the recently-concluded T20I tri-series finale, India was blown apart once again. In pursuit of 156, India were 115/3 at one stage. However, when Mandhana (66) departed, the team were bowled out for just 144.
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