In the absence of a bowling coach, India’s bowlers attempt to step up.
Harmanpreet Kaur’s team is being tested by Australia’s strong line-up with two months until the T20 World Cup.
After India lost the third T20I against Australia to fall behind 2-1 in the five-match series, captain Harmanpreet Kaur admitted her team is missing a bowling coach but is pleased with how the bowlers are handling the situation.
When Ramesh Powar was head coach, he was in charge of the bowling department, but India hasn’t had a full-time bowling coach since he left. Renuka Singh, who made her debut just over a year ago, leads the pace attack with 30 internationals.
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“I know we’re missing a bowling coach, but our bowlers are taking charge,” Harmanpreet said after Wednesday’s 21-run loss. “They take part in bowlers’ meetings. They have full responsibility, and today [it was] all their plans, and they were leading the way; I was just in the middle supporting them.
Renuka has been thrust into the role of India’s prime bowler in the absence of an experienced seamer in T20Is, namely Shikha Pandey. Renuka has taken more T20I wickets than only two other fast bowlers, both from the UAE, since her debut.
“Renuka has the experience because she has done well in the last six and a half months and has gotten good results,” Harmanpreet explained. “Whenever we set plans for pace bowlers, she takes the lead and our video analysts give us a lot of information.
“When it comes to spin bowlers, almost all of them have played a lot of T20 cricket, including Deepti [Sharma], Radha [Yadav], and Rajeshwari [Gayakwad]. Devika [Vaidya] is new to the team, but she has international cricket experience and has done extensive research on international cricket.”
It’s a difficult situation for a team seeking its first world title at the T20 World Cup next year. With less than two months until India’s opening game against Pakistan, they are still honing their bowling attack. That is, minus a bowling coach.
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While Renuka is a lock, Meghna, who made her ODI debut last year but only played her first T20I at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, played in the first two matches against Australia before being replaced by Gayakwad in the third. Meghna has bowled her four-over quota only once in nine T20Is.
Meghna has frequently missed out on a spot in the XI due to India’s reluctance to use a seam-heavy attack in white-ball cricket. Until recently, Jhulan Goswami led the attack in ODIs, aided by Renuka and Pooja Vastrakar. Renuka and Vastrakar were frequently part of the two-seamer attack in T20s.
Vastrakar was an important part of India’s seam-bowling strategy, but her injury has left the country short on resources. As a result, in the final series before the T20 World Cup in February, Harmanpreet has had to rely on spin more than she would have liked.
“[We definitely missed] Pooja. A medium pacer is needed on these tracks,” explained Harmanpreet. “Definitely, bowling back-to-back spin bowling makes it easy for the opposition batsmen to settle down. We definitely miss Pooja as she has experience bowling death-overs. In the first two games, we tried Meghna, but she didn’t work out.”
Anjali Sarvani, the first left-arm seamer to play a women’s T20I for India, made her debut in a bid to strengthen the pace department. She had a successful domestic season, topping the bowling charts in both the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy and the Senior Women’s Inter-Zone T20s.
Sarvani took two wickets in the third game after going wicketless in the first two games, including a perfect inswinger to bowl Tahlia McGrath for her first wicket.
India have been selected for the tri-series in South Africa, which also includes the West Indies, as India looks to compete in the T20 World Cup in 2020, hoping to improve on their runner-up finish. Vastrakar’s return will bolster their attack, they hope they have more experience in their ranks and guidance from the dugout.