The Veteran & The (ex) Scot

This series between India and New Zealand was always going to be mixing pot of a little unknown versus some tried and true, a side serving of are they real World Cup contenders and a pinch of ‘what the?’

Game one down and it would be fair to say we’ve covered all of those ingredients already!

With India sitting bottom of the ICC Women’s Championship table on 3 points and NZ only one spot ahead on 4, this series is certainly crunch time for both teams to keep in touch with the top four who earn automatic qualification for the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup in England.

It’s a strange sight seeing these two countries in this position when in most cases over the last 15 years people would put them in the mix with Australia and England as probable contenders for most semi finals spots in the one day arena.

A debate on the state of play of women’s cricket around the world is for another time, however there is no doubt that the administrational support, pathway structures and contract systems provided by Cricket Australia and the ECB is driving a bigger divided between the top two and the rest.

For now though a great win for women’s cricket here in India with the BCCI televising all 5 ODI’s. Another great result is that I heard Sky Sport NZ is also picking up the broadcast. This impacts, women’s cricket and women’s sport in so many ways. I’ve always been a big believer in the saying “girls can’t be what they can’t see” so these games being broadcast to the potential next generation of players is very exciting.

Off the field it also gives myself and Anjum Chopra another chance to work on our commentary learnings from the IPL,  allows us the opportunity to give further insight into the players and educate people on the global shape of the game. And for those girls loving the game but not playing a chance to see there are opportunities opening up in all areas of cricket.

Right, get back to the game you say!

Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru (Bangalore) is one of the most energised grounds in the IPL. The fans of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Red Army, are renowned for their passion & noise and often witness big scores because of a good deck, fast outfield and small boundaries.

Chatting to the head curator everyone agreed a big score was on offer. And that’s why you’ve got to love sport as it’s so unpredictable.

Mithali Raj was of the same thought so won the toss and batted with no hesitancy. That was about the only thing that went to plan for India for the next 44.3 overs! Jhulan Goswami, the world’s number 1 ranked bowler showed her all round skills and more so her application in getting India out of a massive hole. That hole was caused through disciplined bowling and some solid fielding, including two spectacular catches from Priest and Perkins and a switched on and pro active captain in Suzie Bates. India’s middle order crumbled losing 5-14 at one stage due to the efforts mainly of Tahuhu (3/25), Nielson (3/24) and NZ debutant Leigh Kasperek (3/39). Goswami’s 57 (67) was in complete difference to every other Indian knock. It was measured and most importantly had intent.

Small targets often prove challenging and a run rate of 1 for the first 6 overs was not the positive start the White Ferns were after. Priest 0 (19), Broadmore 5 (25) added to a ridiculously high dot ball count of 400+ for the game and the two starts to Bates (28) and Devine (24) weren’t converted into a knock like Goswami’s. I can’t see India not sticking with the four spin options of Bisht (2/18), Rana (3/26), Gayakwad (1/22) and Kaur (2/26) for the next few games too.

A glimmer of hope was given by Kasperek, the Scottish born all rounder, whose shyness off the field isn’t seen in her play. Running out of partners 17 short of the win, she was at least one positive in a day most would care to forget.

So lessons learned from game one? Don’t listen to the chick doing the pitch report as she obviously knows nothing about potential targets! Intent is key for both sides if they want to put on and chase decent totals. Spin and combating it, is going to play a large part in this series. Nothing beats the calmness of experience and the carefree approach of newbies.

Off the field great to be reacquainted with Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and Anjum Chopra. And if the banter in the comms box day was anything to go by, it’s going to be a great series also working with Rohan Gavaskar and Deep Dasgupta.

Two days rest before game 2 on Wednesday.