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Mithali Raj now lends crucial experience to India's fragile middle order

Mithali Raj calls for 'little more support' from fast bowlers

India Women news

Mithali Raj, India Women's one-day international captain, has stressed on the need for fast-bowling all-rounders in the side for better balance, especially in conditions that don't suit spinners.

Raj's request came after India's defeat in the final ICC Women's Championship ODI against New Zealand by eight wickets in Hamilton – the visitors were bowled out for a paltry 149. She also demanded more from the middle order.

"The middle order definitely needs more outing," she said. "Also, when the spinners are getting hit, we need a little more support from the fast bowlers.

"Jhulan [Goswami] is experienced but we need to have maybe an all-rounder in the XI, who can be useful on these tracks when you know that the spinners are not doing (well). The all-rounder can step in. It's a choice, but we definitely need to work on these areas."

The spinners led the charge in the first two ODIs as India coasted to victories to wrap up the series. In the second game in Mount Maunganui, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav and Deepti Sharma picked up six wickets between them.

A 151-run partnership between Raj and Smriti Mandhana then helped India recover from 15/2 and chase down the 166-run target in 35.2 overs.

The story was the same in the first ODI as well – the spinners got eight wickets between them to keep New Zealand to 192 before Mandhana's century and Jemimah Rodrigues' 81 helped India chase down 193.

"The first game, the spinners dominated, and the opening pair has given us a great start," said Raj. "Chasing 170-odd runs and without losing the openers initially has definitely given us confidence.

"Getting into the second game also, the spinners continued to carry that momentum from the first game, Though we had a collapse, the partnership between me and Smriti helped us.

"Overall, the Indian team has always banked on the spinners, and they've done well on this surface as well."

The third ODI was also Raj's 200th as she became the first woman to reach the milestone. Raj, who debuted in 1999, was "very happy to have represented the country for so long."

"When you have a long career there are different elements that come into your reasoning and factors," she explained. "But one thing that's always been there is to constantly thrive and work on my game, to suit different conditions and [work on] different areas of my game in trying to keep up with the international standard."