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The Indian cricket team certainly knows a thing or two about bouncing back after heartbreaking defeats, and Mithali Raj and company did well to give Australia a proper fight in the next two games after getting humbled at the start of the one-day international series, nearly pulling off a victory in the second before going a step further to collect their first points of the multi-format series in the third.
After getting thoroughly outplayed by nine wickets in the first ODI following a 36-run loss in the warmup game, the Indians fought back admirably in the second outing, posting a formidable 275-run target and then reducing the hosts to 52/4 from where the possibility of finishing victors seemed highly improbable, if not impossible. The Aussies, however, are cut from a different cloth, as their 26-match unbeaten run that only came to an end on Sunday would suggest, as Beth Mooney rallied with the middle order to script a miraculous comeback and take her side home in a last-ball thriller.
The Indians though, didn't crumble from the disappointment of the narrow loss as they remained solid with bat and ball in the final one-dayer, even if they disappointed with their fielding, as senior bowler Jhulan Goswami and youngsters such as Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia and Sneh Rana pitched in with valuable contributions in what turned out to be yet another thrilling finish, only this time the Indians celebrated wildly in the end as they collected their first points of the tour.
With the ODI leg of the tour " which took place entirely at the Harrup Park in Mackay " coming to an end on Sunday, we take a look at some of the key moments and talking points from the three matches before we shift our attention to the historic pink-ball Test that starts Thursday. This all the more so as the series will have likely marked the beginning of India and Australia's road to next year's World Cup in New Zealand.
Contrasting runs for the Indian veterans
Goswami remains the tireless workhorse that remains at the heart of India's pace department in the women's team and she proved that age is just a number with her performances in the three-match rubber, shining both with the new ball as well as with the old in the slog overs and also impressing with her pinch-hitting and finishing ability with the bat. Goswami, after all, was responsible for taking India to 274 in the company of Pooja Vastrakar on Friday, and kept her calm in the face of immense pressure to finish the game with a boundary off Sophie Molineux when three runs were left in four deliveries, in addition to her haul of 3/37 earlier in the day.
" BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) September 26, 2021
Mithali Raj though, simply has failed to rotate the strike to put the opposition bowlers under pressure with some strokeplay in the middle order. That she had put the onus of scoring more runs and showing intent on Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma after the defeat in the first game, with the former being India's top scorer in the series, while she struggled to get going at centre herself has only sharpened the criticism aimed at her. While her approach could work in certain situations in the red and pink-ball formats, it only builds pressure for her side in the 50-over game and she will have to rethink her batting position while working on her game in the months ahead.
Youngsters continue to impress
The series saw the continued rise of youngsters with Sneh Rana's cameo in the third ODI once again highlighting her finishing skills that, along with her handy off spin, could make her a vital cog that could lend balance to the Indian team.
Additionally, Yastika Bhatia repaid the faith reposed in her by the team management as she made the most of the opportunities offered to her at the No 3 position, shining with a well-composed 64 in a winning cause in the third ODI to move ahead of the likes of Jemimah Rodrigues and Punam Raut in the pecking order for the one-down slot.
And continuing along on the topic of Indian youngsters, let's not forget the contributions of Shafali, who got India off to a solid start in both the second and third ODIs, but managed to convert her start into her maiden one-day half-century on Sunday.
India's fielding woes
The Indians were impressive with bat and ball in the aftermath of the nine-wicket demolition on Tuesday as they made a game out of the second and third matches. However, India could very well have been 2-1 up in the series had it not been for their fielding, which ranged from poor to outright atrocious across the series, with the occasional display of brilliance.
It was only a two months ago that Harleen Deol pulled off a worthy contender for the Catch of the Year in the first T20I against England, and got the cricketing world talking about how markedly improved India's fielding standards were in recent years. The number of catches dropped " including absolute sitters " along with countless misfields in this series however, will have undone the positive image of Indian fielding that was built by Deol's stunner.
The gulf between the two sides in this department was especially evident in the third game as Indians kept spilling one chance after another while the Aussies kept grabbing screamers " especially the reverse running catch by Annabel Sutherland to dismiss Mandhana.
Australia's young pacers make case for long-term plans
The Australians were missing a few key names going into this series, especially pace spearhead Megan Schutt who celebrated the birth of her first child with partner Jess Holyoake last month as well as Tayla Vlaeminck, ruled out due to fitness issues.
While senior all-rounder Ellyse Perry couldn't quite make it count in Schutt's absence, youngsters such as Darcie Brown (4/33, 1st ODI), Tahlia McGrath (3/45, 2nd ODI), Annabel Sutherland (3/30, 3rd ODI) showed Australia has plenty of backup as far as the seam-bowling deparment goes, and may have even made the selectors' job all the tougher with some bright performances in the three bygone one-dayers. Certainly a problem of plenty for this powerhouse side going forward, and they might have the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) to thank for that in addition to the country's raw fast-bowling talent.
The Ellyse Perry conundrum
Perry could very well be described as the face of the Australian women's cricket team and certainly one of the greatest athletes the country has ever produced. But even the star all-rounder, whose brilliance in all departments of the game combined with steely determination has made her a modern-day superstar and an indispensable part of the Australian setup, seems to have hit a roadblock ever since she recovered from the hamstring injury that kept her out of action for the most part last year.
Perry, who suffered a torn hamstring in Australia's victorious T20 World Cup campaign at home last year and had to undergo a surgery and a six-month layoff since, looked patchy with the bat and was especially wayward with the ball as she failed to make any noteworthy contributions with either willow or leather in the three games, the damage of which was somewhat softened by her electric presence on the field as she saved many a boundary with her agility.
Perry, though, remains an integral member of the side and is still a long way off from the selectors having second thoughts about her place in the team, but the star performer is bound to have word with skipper Meg Lanning and the rest of the team management about how her poor run is hurting the team's chances. She will hope she can turn things around come Thursday, when the two sides lock horns in only the second women's day-night Test.