Muzumdar spotlights fielding, death overs as areas to improve for India

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The pressure of the chase got to India who failed to score 35 off the last five overs.
The pressure of the chase got to India who failed to score 35 off the last five overs. © BCCI

Missed opportunities and their inability to seize the key moments in the death overs proved costly for India, admitted head coach Amol Muzumdar, after Australia clinched a thrilling three-run victory in the second ODI at the Wankhede stadium on Saturday (December 30) to seal the series.

Phoebe Litchfield, Ellyse Perry and Alana King all capitalised on multiple reprieves to make crucial contributions that propelled Australia to a challenging total of 258 on a pitch that was helping the slower bowlers. India came close but a slew of wickets in the ending stages of the game meant that they weren't able to close it out.

Speaking after the match, Muzumdar admitted that fielding and fitness are areas they need to work on. "We're in the process of building it up. There's no doubt that our fielding was below par today. We dropped about six catches. It always happens in a game. Even they dropped a few. But having said that, we still are a work in progress. If we get time post this series, I'm sure we'll try to spend a lot of time on fielding and fitness."

Deepti Sharma was India's star with the ball as she finished with excellent figures of 5 for 38. However, she struggled with the bat later, scoring a 36-ball 24 not out, and wasn't able to take India across the line. India weren't at their best in the finishing stages, with Pooja Vastrakar conceding 18 runs in the final over while the pressure of the chase got to them despite needing 35 off the last five overs.

Muzumdar did not want to blame Deepti for the defeat but he did point out that India needed to get better in the death in both departments.

"At the end of the day we can all sit and say 'oh, we missed out by three runs' but there were about 600 balls bowled in that. So we can always go back and talk about it in hindsight. Yes, we fell short by three runs but I cannot name anyone for the defeat. It's just a collective effort. Probably just one more shot or one more stop in the field could have done the trick.

"I think that didn't tilt the balance but I thought that just gave the momentum to Australia a little bit going into the dressing room," said Muzumdar about the 18-run final over. "That's one area where I feel we need to have a look in and improve ourselves going forward, is the death overs, whether it is batting or bowling. We'll be working hard on that."

Muzumdar, meanwhile, was lavish in his praise of Richa Ghosh who scored a career-best 96 in the match batting at No.3. "Richa, Fantastic knock, what a knock it was. Under pressure, at No.3 - a new position for her - and she's just proven why she is spoken about highly. Her talent speaks for herself. I think probably a hundred would have been an appropriate one for her. But unfortunately she got out. I think it was a special knock," said Muzumdar.

"Richa is our No.3, we believe that she can be a good top order player. We believe in her talent and you've seen what kind of shots she can play. And if she can use the first 10 overs and then play according to the situation, that is the best spot for her. At least now we feel that Richa at No.3 will be a very good choice," he added.




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