India were too dependent on Shafali: Priyanka Roy   

Kaushiik Paul
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India were too dependent on Shafali: Priyanka Roy   

Shafali Verma walks off dejectedly after being dismissed. © Getty Images

Former India international Priyanka Roy feels that India were too dependent on opener Shafali Verma during their campaign in the recently-concluded ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia earlier this month. The leg-spinner added that the seniors should have ‘shouldered’ more responsibility to help the team's cause.

India remained unbeaten in the league stages before their semi-final showdown against England was washed out allowing them through to the summit clash for the first time in the history of the event. However, in the final India were beaten by the same Australian side whom they defeated in the tournament opener.

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“I think India were too dependent on Shafali – known or unknown,” Roy told Women’s CricZone. “She was scoring runs at the top in the leagues and happened to have one bad day. But in the big matches, the likes of Harmanpreet (Kaur), Smriti (Mandhana), Jemimah (Rodrigues) and Veda (Krishnamurthy) should have taken a bit more responsibility and scored runs.”

16-year-old Shafali scored 163 runs in five matches finishing fifth in the tournament batting charts. In contrast, the combination of Kaur, Mandhana and Rodrigues accumulated just one more run than the teenager. It is also to be noted that Mandhana missed India’s game against Bangladesh due to illness.  

Just after the competition India coach WV Raman had spoken of the missed semi-final potentially breaking India’s momentum. However, he insisted that it was no excuse for the performance in the final. Roy added that poor fielding in the fist few overs - Shafali and Rajeshwari Gayakwad dropping Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney respectively - meant India were never in the contest.

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“Everyone knew that no matter how good or bad Australia play in the league stages they become a totally different entity when it comes to the semi-finals or the finals,” said Roy, who has played 27 ODIs and 15 T20Is for India. “We put down a couple of chances within the first four overs and they pounced on that. In big tournaments like this, there are few chances that come your way and those shouldn’t be missed."

Taniya Bhatia getting dismissed. ©ICC India's middle order struggled to put together scores of substance. ©ICC

“It’s a strange and extraordinary power that comes in them (in the final). And after winning the semi-final against South Africa in those difficult circumstances they seemed even more excited and hungry. We had a very good chance of lifting the Cup this time. Hopefully, we get more such chances in the future and can use them properly.”

Just like India’s top four, India’s middle-order too didn’t live up to the billing. Although Deepti Sharma had scores of 49 not out and 33 (both against Australia), the likes of Krishnamurthy and wicket-keeper Taniya Bhatia flattered to deceive.

Since the middle order has been one of India's biggest issues in T20Is for a long time, ahead of the World Cup, Mandhana came out in support of her teammates and said that the best way to support the middle order is for the top four to bat through the 20 overs.

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Asked whether the Indian middle-order were left complacent by Mandhana’s comments, Roy had different opinions. “No, definitely not,” said the Bengal spinner. “In cricket, it’s a rule to follow that at least one batter in the top four stays for a longer period of time because it helps to build the innings around her. But if a team lose three-four wickets early on, then it gets very difficult to score runs and stop further loss of wickets,” she explained.

“There should be one set batter from the top who can play that quick-fire innings in the last six overs and for that, we need wickets in hand. If you are already four or five down early on, who will play that kind of knock? So you need at least one or two batters from the top to remain till the last who can free their arms in the end. I think Smriti tried to put it in that view,” concluded Roy, the owner of 40 international wickets.