Opening troubles, middle-order muddle leave India with plenty to ponder

Under-utilised, slipping under the radar

Much like their opponents, India seem to be unsure of how best to deal with allrounder Deepti Sharma. Since January 2018, Deepti, the bowler, has consistently upset opponents’ plans, taking 21 wickets in 22 T20I innings. India, however, have struggled to draw up a plan for Deepti, the batsman. In the 12 T20I innings she’s batted (in 21 completed matches), she’s slotted in five times at Nos 6 and 7, twice at Nos. 8 and 9, five times at Nos 3, 4 and 5, but never opened for India.

Deepti, however, has played anchor to great effect, as an opener, for her domestic side Bengal over the past two seasons. Her ODI and T20I career strike rates are 64 and 93 respectively, but under pressure, she’s capable of using her feet and clearing the rope, as evinced in the crucial 71-m six she hit, six balls into her innings during India’s chase in the third T20I.

Rodrigues has only once been used as an opener in T20Is since her debut last year, and with Priya Punia, who earned her maiden T20I call on the back of her 50-overs showings in domestic cricket, amassing nine runs as an opener in the three matches, India could consider opening with two left-handers in Mandhana and Deepti. The punt could, in turn, open up a spot for an extra bowler, in particular the allrounder Shikha Pandey, who, after being left out of the World T20 squad, played all three ODIs but sat out all three T20Is against New Zealand.