Shikha Pandey: ‘If the batters can’t get us runs, we bowlers need to fight hard and back them’

Shikha Pandey is eyeing better all-round returns on the tour of England following her performance with the ball in the second ODI, where she picked up 9-1-34-1, her economy the best among the Indian attack.

Though India lost the match, Pandey was pivotal to setting the tone of India’s attempt to defend 221 and the bowling unit’s much-improved performance. She gave away just two runs in her first two overs, including a maiden, and got the ball to hoop early, causing discomfort to Tammy Beaumont, the in-form England opener.

Heading into the third and final ODI in Worcester on Saturday, which then leads into the three-match T20I series, Pandey, 32, was hopeful to build on her outing in the second ODI in Taunton.

“Not setting long-term goals,” Pandey said when asked about the all-round role she may be expected to play in the 2022 ODI World Cup. “That’s not really something that works for me, so [I’m] just setting short-term goals. For me it’s one session, one spell, one ball at a time when I’m going in to bowl. I think I have found some rhythm back in the second game, so just going to go ahead, follow the basics and keep doing all I can.

“As a bowling allrounder, I am, yes, supposed to be scoring runs and every time I get onto the field, the aim is to contribute to the team’s success in whichever way I can. There are goals being set but at a very short-term basis; no long-term goals in mind. So, it’s just the game tomorrow and bowl well and in case I get to bat, probably score better and contribute a lot more with the bat.”

The solitary wicket – of opener Lauren Winfield-Hill – Pandey took in Taunton was also her first one on the tour.

Winfield-Hill’s dismissal was as much a result of Pandey’s ability to entice a set batter into prodding at an away-going delivery as it was of Taniya Bhatia’s deft work with the gloves. Standing up to the two seamers, Jhulan Goswami and Pandey, Bhatia, in sparkling form throughout the series effecting four dismissals in three innings, snagged the faintest of edges to dismiss Winfield-Hill for 42.

“Firstly, I am huge fan of Taniya,” Pandey said. “The kind of keeping, standing up to the stumps to medium pacers is not an easy job and the way she stood up to us, even with the new ball, is amazing. You can count on your fingers the number of keepers that can do that in international cricket. So, firstly, it’s commendable what she is doing for us.

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