India’s batting depth: A privilege to enjoy

Pooja Vastrakar and Sneh Rana have become key to India’s recent success with their ability to bat in the lower-order

New Update

Pooja Vastrakar scored a rapid 62* in the first ODI © Getty Images

Imagine losing your seventh wicket while batting on 182 runs, and then going on to put up a total of 282 runs on the board. Well, Team India did exactly just that in the first ODI match against Australia at the Wankhede Stadium on December 28. This speaks volumes about their batting depth and their ability to deliver with the bat even when the lower order is exposed. 

When any side goes six or seven wickets down, the remainder of the batting order crumbles in most circumstances. Only a few teams in the history of the sport have been blessed with a solid batting depth which can help them salvage something from the innings with a few wickets in hand. It looks like India Women are one of them as their consistent batting has brought them positive results recently. 

Bowling all-rounders have become a key in modern cricket as they can fill a gap in any team. Almost every successful international side has had one thing in common - the presence of a bowling all-rounder who would, needless to say, deliver with the ball but would also lend a helping hand with the bat when required. 

If we take a look at India’s current lower order, Sneh Rana bats at number eight, and Pooja Vastrakar bats next. Both of them have shown lately that they can be relied on with the bat. Rana proved the same on her Test debut against England which dates back to June 2021. She scored 80 runs in India’s second innings after England had enforced a follow-on, ensuring the match ended in a stalemate instead of going in the Heather Knight-led side’s favour. 

December 2023 was another eventful month for the Indian bowling all-rounders. Moving on to the second Test between India and England in two-and-a-half years, Rana pulled off another clutch display with the bat in the home side’s first innings. She may not have scored a half-century, but a 92-run partnership with fellow off-spinner Deepti Sharma ensured a more-than-solid total for Harmanpreet Kaur’s side. She provided great stability on the crease just after India lost two wickets in quick succession. 

Rana played a slightly different role with the bat in the one-off Test against Australia. Instead of her regular number-eight position, she was sent out to bat at number three as a night watcher, and did her job playing second fiddle to Smriti Mandhana who was on a roll. Vastrakar, who got off to a great start by clinching four wickets in the first innings, showed up with the bat and took India’s lead further ahead. 

India gave away four wickets in the space of nine overs. It was a complete capitulation of the middle order and it looked like the lead would slip away from them. Seven down, in came Vastrakar, showing her clutch hand with the bat. She scored 47 runs individually and 122 runs along with Deepti for the eighth wicket. India couldn’t have asked for a better display from the bowling all-rounder. 

ALSO READ: Phoebe Litchfield, Ellyse Perry headline Australia's chase

As the ODI series against the Aussies kicked off on Thursday, it was Vastrakar again who showed the Indian supporters that they cannot write off the lower order. She began her innings by supporting the in-form Jemimah Rodrigues, who would go on to score 82 runs, her career-high. The 68-run partnership ended with Rodrigues’ dismissal, and from then on, Vastrakar decided to take over. An aggressive batting display led her to score 62 runs off 46 balls. She had the highest strike rate of 134.78 among Indian batters, managing to do what most failed to. 

India may have failed to win the first ODI since Australia’s batting prowess got the better of them, but one thing that is for sure is that the visitors would’ve had a lesser total to chase if it weren’t for Vastrakar. Her acceleration is one of the key reasons behind India getting their total to 282 runs, which was also their highest-ever total against the Aussies in ODIs. 

Rana and Vastrakar have been instrumental in India’s recent success against England and Australia, and it is partly because of their ability to provide two extra batting options to the side. Cricket teams consider themselves lucky to have one bowling all-rounder, and India have two. This could be very beneficial to the side in the long run and the immediate future as team India into the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh and a home Cricket World Cup in the coming two years.