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India's Harmanpreet Kaur plays a shot during the 2022 Women's Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and India at Seddon Park in Hamilton. Image Credit: AFP

The Indian women’s cricket team came very close to beating hosts England in the final of the 2017 World Cup but lost by 9 runs at Lords. But now in 2022, it looks like they have lost their way completely.

They have played 40 ODIs after that final and have lost 21 and won just 19. The worrying fact is that in the last 16 games they have won just 4 games having lost the series to South Africa at home ground as well as losing to England, Australia and New Zealand away from home.

The team had an ideal preparation before the World Cup by playing host New Zealand in five games to get used to the conditions even though they lost the series 4/1. But after winning their first game against Pakistan easily, they once again fumbled against the host going down by 62 runs. India’s strength has always been to set targets and defending with the help of their spinners but it was baffling to see experienced captain Mithali Raj deciding to field first after winning the toss. New Zealand had lost their first game to the West Indies where they could not chase down 259 and out of 7 matches played before today’s game, 5 matches were won by the team batting first.

Failed to perform

The second problem is the inconsistency of their batters who have failed to perform as a unit. Harmanpreet Kaur, India’s star in the 2017, scored her third 50 in 19 innings after the World Cup and was woefully out of form till the last game against the New Zealand where she got in to form. Their batting heavily depends on opener Smriti Mandhana to give them a quick start and on Raj who has played 227 games. If India are to get to the knockouts, all three will have to score big. India were bailed out in the first match against Pakistan by all rounders Sneh Rana and Pooja Vastrakar when they were struggling at 114/6 and both scored fifties to take them to 245 which in the end turned out to be a match winning total.

India next play West Indies who have won both their matches against New Zealand and England and must be high on confidence and if India have to go further in the tournament they will have to beat them. They have still five games to go before they play their last game against South Africa and may have their work cut out. But who knows - they could make it to the knockouts and two good games later could get that elusive World Cup...