Richa Ghosh could strengthen India's middle order in ODIs, feels Hemalata Kala

S Sudarshanan
New Update
Richa Ghosh could strengthen India's middle order in ODIs, feels Hemalata Kala

Richa Ghosh hits one square through the off side. © BCCI

Hemalata Kala, former chair of selectors, felt that Richa Ghosh could bolster India’s batting in ODIs and is a complete package with her wicket-keeping skills. Ghosh was included in the 50-over format for the first time for India’s multi-format tour of Australia, that starts with the ODI series on Tuesday (September 21).

In the ODI series against England in June, India’s middle-order came under the scanner, with only Mithali Raj scoring consistently and finishing as the highest run-getter in the series.

“When I was the selector (in 2020), Ghosh was selected as a batter for the national side because the T20 World Cup was in Australia. We felt that with the tracks in Australia assisting seamers, she could be useful because of her back-foot punches and cut shots,” said Kala in a virtual press conference on Friday during Sony Sports Network’s series launch.

“Ghosh was a batter who could play well in the middle-order and that’s why we selected her. Now that she is keeping wickets regularly, that gives the team a good wicketkeeper-batter.”

“Richa’s inclusion adds depth to our batting.”

In the ODIs against England, Punam Raut was tried at no.3 in the first ODI before she was replaced by Jemimah Rodrigues in the last two matches. Rodrigues returned scores of eight and four and looked out of form, before redeeming herself with ">solid returns for Northern Superchargers in The Hundred. Kala opined that it is unfair to leave out Raut after just one match and should be given a longer rope in the lead-up to the Women’s World Cup next year.

“We can’t judge Punam Raut based on one game. We can’t expect her to score at a very good strike rate in just the one opportunity,” said Kala, whose tenure as the national selector came to a close after the T20 World Cup last year.

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“If you look at the series against South Africa, she was the highest run-getter. She played well in the Test (against England). Her S/R is around 60-70, but we also have to take into consideration that she walks in early at times.”

“Punam Raut is the best at three, in my opinion, if you look at her consistency.”

Kala was in-charge when Shafali Verma was selected to the national side for the very first time in 2019. The former India player backed the teenager to come good in the day/night Test that starts late this month.

“Shafali will be as successful with the pink ball as she was with the red-ball. She did well against England and needn’t change her style of play much in the day/night Test.”

“The way Shafali bats, I don’t think there is any major challenge for her because she is a very unique cricketer. Anything bowled in her range will be hit, irrespective of the speed of the ball.”

For the tour Down Under, India have picked Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh Thakur, Pooja Vastrakar and Arundhati Reddy apart from Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey as the seamers. Kala said that this was a welcome change after all these years where the focus was mainly on spin.

“After 2020, our bowling attack has gotten stronger with the likes of Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey and Pooja Vastrakar (playing in the XI). I remember even in new Zealand we used to play with only one medium pacer,” said Kala, who played 78 ODIs and seven Tests between 1999 and 2008.

“The thought process have changed, maybe with the change of coach. I think our pace bowling has enough depth with the inclusion of Meghana Singh. She bowls very good outswingers. We have our bases covered as far as seaming options go.”

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Kala also threw her weight behind five-day Tests for women. Currently the playing conditions stipulated for women have four-day games with 100 overs to be bowled each day. India earned a fighting draw in the Bristol Test against England in June and it was widely believed that an additional day would have seen the match have a definite result.

“I think if we want to see more result oriented Tests, there needs to be a fifth day. Four day Tests have been going on for long time now. (In early 2000s) we used to make scores in the range of 150-200.”

“But now the scores are getting bigger. So we need to have a fifth day so that we can see results.”

Kala also praised the plans and strategies that India’s head coach Ramesh Powar uses and backed the team to do well in Australia.

Viewers in India can catch all the matches of India's tour of Australia live on Sony Six and Sony Six HD. The matches will also be live streamed on the Sony Liv website and app.