Ramesh Powar, the India Women head coach, has underlined two key areas as the team builds into a busy seven-month stretch leading into the 50-overs World Cup in February 2022: widening India's fast-bowling pool and improving their middle-overs batting.
India fielded only four fast bowlers across formats in England. In her comeback series, Shikha Pandey picked up five wickets in the limited-overs leg after going wicketless in the drawn Test, while Jhulan Goswami finished with the second-highest wickets tally among the touring seamers (four wickets) despite not featuring in the T20Is.
The two younger seamers, Pooja Vastrakar and Arundhati Reddy, proved ineffective. While Vastrakar didn't feature in the 2-1 T20I series loss, Reddy bowled just seven overs across three games, picking up just the one wicket and conceding 9.57 runs per over.
"Honestly, we have learnt a lot many things [from this tour]," Powar said after England clinched the multi-format series 10-6. "We have to have match time; we need to play some games before the World Cup. In the fast-bowling department, only Jhulan [Goswami] performed. There has to be some support for her, so we are looking to enhance the fast-bowlers department."
India next play Australia across formats in September, and Powar, who has had little time to acclimatise in his second stint as head coach, hoped to have a proper camp and a few warm-up games to identify a fast-bowling pool going forward.
"We are looking to add some [fast] bowlers, if we are going to get a camp after this tour, we will start working on them," he said. "In the seven months [leading into the World Cup], we want to create a pool of fast bowlers. We already have five in the team, we are looking at five more, so 10 bowlers to work on for the next few months and we will get the results.
"Yes, time is short, but the way forward is including more fast bowlers from domestic teams and domestic performers. We are especially looking at tall fast bowlers. Those who have performed can be included in the next camp, so yes, we are looking at 10-15 fast bowlers going ahead."
Powar then touched upon the middle-overs batting. While Mithali Raj made half-centuries in each of the three ODIs, the others around her struggled. Punam Raut was left out after the first ODI, while her replacement Jemimah Rodrigues only managed two single-digit scores. Deepti Sharma, like Raut, struggled to score quickly.
"Then middle-overs batting, after Powerplay in ODIs [is another important area]," Powar said. "That is where strike rotation and conversion rate of dot balls to runs after you get set is key. We played a Test after seven years, and we have lots to learn.
"We still managed to draw due to some brilliant performances, but in T20s, we need 160-plus to put pressure on other teams. If we must play in New Zealand, we need good fast bowlers and try to up our conversion rate in the middle overs. Mithali is batting very well, but we need support where we can put pressure on opponents to get to 250-plus."
'We are going towards dominance; it will take time'
One way of trying to change things around, Powar said, was to stress on the need to play aggressively and fearlessly, but he also explained why the current group needed a bit more time before being judged. He felt the methods they have adopted over the past two or three years can't be undone at the click of a button.
"We will play fearless cricket, that is what we will do. This time I wanted them to realise this," Powar said. "You can't force them as a coach in your first series. They have been playing with some ideology for the last two or three years, I have to assess what suits them. You can't make drastic approach changes.
"They've been playing differently. To get them out of it, I need to convince them. It took time this time around. In this game [third T20I], we were 28 for 2 after five overs but ended up with 153. We discussed that we would play fearless cricket no matter what. If you don't, every team will dominate you.
"It will take time. Because of Covid and lack of match practice, we couldn't train as a larger group. But we are going towards dominance, it will take time, but the idea is right."
Powar was particularly happy with T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur's return to form after lacklustre Test and ODI series. She finished the tour with back-to-back 30s, showing signs of returning to her big-hitting ways. Powar felt an extended summer in England, where she will represent Manchester Originals in The Hundred, would do her a world of good.
"It is pleasing for everyone because her scoring runs matter to everyone in the team," Powar said. "She is a player who can dominate the bowling and win us every game, in fact, in T20s. The way she batted, we can see the flair. Going forward, we will see a different Harman henceforth.
"The discussion was to spend time in the crease. If you do that, obviously she has the natural talent to express herself, she is fearless. She is experienced and she knows how to go about it. There is nothing wrong with her technique. If you spend time [at the crease], at some point things will happen. She knew it. In the last two innings, she looked like the old Harman.
"She will be playing in The Hundred. It will give her game time. That is what we like. That is where England is a little ahead of us, in terms of game time, because they have been playing domestic cricket. That is where we were lacking, we didn't have practice games, just had nets. If she scores runs, she leads the side differently. She backs her decisions because of her batting confidence."
"We discussed that we would play fearless cricket no matter what. If you don't, every team will dominate you."
Ramesh Powar, India Women head coach
'Never know what would've happened if there was a fifth day'
Looking back at India's first Test outing in seven years, Powar expressed satisfaction at the team's fighting draw but felt situational awareness will only kick in with more game time.
"I wasn't surprised [at the adaptability], we had a week in Southampton where we practiced with the red ball," he said. "They are good players, they know how to perform, but experience matters in red-ball cricket. We could only prepare them mentally. If you get into a Test straightaway without red-ball cricket, there will be a lack of situational awareness.
"If you play red-ball cricket regularly, you know what is happening in all four days, like slowing things down, taking chances, bowling one side of the wicket etc. It comes with experience. As support staff, we tried to share that with them, that this might happen, this might not happen.
"After the follow-on also, they didn't know what would happen. We told them we can still win this game. If there was a fifth day, you never know what would have happened. I wasn't surprised by the result. The way Sneh Rana and Deepti [Sharma] batted, Deepti is a classical Test player. We try to share everything that we have knowledge of, we couldn't have done more. Side games make a lot of difference. Next time around, we will request some side games."