Experience cannot be bought, it is earned. This saying rang true as West Indies snuck past India by the skin of their teeth in the first ODI at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Friday (November 1). Their two most experienced players, Stafanie Taylor and Anisa Mohammed, were instrumental in giving the hosts a shot at victory.
First, it was the turn of the skipper to anchor the innings as she scored 94 to take West Indies to a total of 226. Then, Mohammed took charge of things when India needed nine off the last over by picking two wickets to give her team a one run win. The duo of Taylor and Mohammed have the experience of 244 ODIs together – something that came to the fore through the course of the game on Friday. With their backs against the wall, the two senior pros stood up to lead the way when West Indies were searching for direction.
Taylor, who had a very good outing in the two matches of Women’s Big Bash League for Adelaide Strikers, carried that positivity into the ODI format. She was well supported by the likes of Natasha Mclean (51) and Chedean Nation (43) whose contributions helped put West Indies in the box seat.
With the ball, Mohammed came back strongly after a dismal series against Australia to show that she has still a lot left in her tank. She registered her 150th ODI wicket along the way, making her the fourth highest wicket taker in ODIs with 151 scalps in 119 matches.
Despite her team’s success, Taylor will not be too happy as she knows the task ahead is tough. She will be hoping that some of the other players put their hands up and take some more responsibility. West Indies will need to put in another good allround performance if they want to get past the visitors again.
For India, it was the old problems of not closing out the game that came back to haunt them. Once again, they were well placed in the chase, only to slip from a 170 for three to 224 all out in the space of 10 overs.
Priya Punia continued her good form from the series against South Africa to score another patient 75. Alongside Jemimah Rodrigues, she laid the platform for the middle order batters to cash in. However, the slow scoring rate at the start meant India was always playing catch up towards the latter half of the innings – they left themselves too much to do at the back end.
Mithali Raj will be disappointed with her team’s performance, more so for having (literally) ‘dropped’ two crucial championship points that were there for the taking. With India’s series against Pakistan unlikely to happen, this defeat may come back to haunt them if they have to go through the qualifying round again.
India need their middle order to step up, but more than anything, they need to find a method that suits their style of play in ODIs, because what they showcased in game one appeared to be an outdated approach at the top – something that causes one to question their team combination. Does packing the team with largely sedate players at the top make sense when there is so much versatility and firepower in the hut?
There are many questions India will have to answer going in to the next game. Fortunately, they don’t have too long to mull over their disappointment, with the second ODI set to take place at the same venue on Sunday (November 3).
Can India bounce back in style or will West Indies seal the deal with a victory? Only time will tell…
India: Mithali Raj (c), Harmanpreet Kaur (vc), Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Punam Raut, D Hemalatha, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, Mansi Joshi, Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Priya Punia, Sushma Verma
West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (capt.), Anisa Mohammed, Aaliyah Alleyne, Afy Fletcher, Britney Cooper, Chedean Nation, Chinelle Henry, Stacy-Ann King, Kyshona Knight, Natasha McLean, Shabika Gajnabi, Shawnisha Hector, Shemaine Campbelle, Sheneta Grimmond