New Delhi, Sep 27 (PTI) Former captain Shantha Rangaswamy says constant criticism of Mithali Raj's strike-rate is uncalled for since she remains the best batter in the Indian women's cricket team.
Shantha, also a member of BCCI's Apex Council, lauded India's performance in the ODI series in Australia where they lost 1-2 but fought hard against a champion time. With the win in the third ODI, India also snapped Australia's record 26-match winning streak.
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"She is the best ever batter for India and she is still the best. She knows how to change gears very well and strike-rate doesn't matter if wickets are falling at the other end. She played well in the UK and in this series too," Shantha told PTI. "Even Jhulan was brilliant against Australia. Goes to show age is just a number with these two still playing well (at 38 years of age)."
Mithali scored a fifth consecutive half-century in the series opener but India went on to lose the game. On the team's performance in ODIs, Shantha said: "It was remarkable as they fought hard against the best team in the world. India should have won the second ODI too but it was a good game nonetheless."
For Shantha, fielding needs a lot of improvement and players need to be more consistent. She also questioned T20 skipper Harmanpreet Kaur's fitness as thumb injury ruled out her of the series.
"She had come from the hundred injured, before that she got injured during the South Africa series at home. If she is prone to injuries, then she should avoid playing overseas leagues and prioritise playing for India. She is an impact player and the team needs her," said Shantha. “The BCCI can step in and stop players from playing in leagues ahead of important tours like Australia.”
The former India captain also expects more consistency from openers Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana. She also feels Richa Ghosh needs to work a lot of her wicket-keeping though she has come up nicely as a batter in the ODIs.
"Yastika Bhatia impressed in her debut series and should be persisted with. Shafali needs to find other ways to score, the bowlers will not pitch it up to her often now. The bowlers now know what to bowl to her," she said.
Sneh Rana has come up nicely as an all-rounder which puts pressure on Deepti Sharma. "Deepti is a better option in Tests as she has a more compact game. Sneh has done really well since her comeback and could be the leading spin all-rounder in ODIs," Shantha added.