Mithali Raj

The one-off warm-up game on Saturday may have been an indication that Raj, India's most prolific batter in ODIs,

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Mithali Raj

may at long last move higher than the No. 4 position that has come to be her assigned role since the tour of New Zealand in early 2019.

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Mithali Raj

For 18 innings straight since, Raj has batted two-down or lower, scoring 40 or more in 11 of those occasions,

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Mithali Raj

seven half-centuries included. India won nine of those matches and lost as many.

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Mithali Raj

Through that period, the No. 3 slot changed hands among Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma and Harmanpreet Kaur,

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Mithali Raj

with none of them able to make the position their own.

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Mithali Raj

That India had to seek out a first-drop beyond Raj in the first place was down in part to the dearth of a first-choice opening partner to Smriti Mandhana.

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Mithali Raj

That conundrum was at least temporarily put to rest by Shafali Verma's Test and ODI debuts in the UK in June,

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Mithali Raj

where she opened with varying success, and is expected to continue in the role in Australia.

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Mithali Raj

The score notwithstanding, if India are to make the optimum use of their most reliable batter, the No. 3 should no longer be in question.

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