New Delhi. The method may be different, but the story is the same. The same story was repeated in London, Melbourne, Birmingham and now Cape Town. The Indian women’s cricket team was knocked out even before reaching the trophy. Despite being in a winning position at the hands of Australia in the semi-finals of the ongoing ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa, the five-run defeat has raised questions about the Indian women’s team. By reaching the final of the ODI World Cup 2017, India revolutionized women’s cricket. It was expected that the Indian women’s cricket team would now go a step further and challenge the reign of Australia, but even after six years there was no change in the story.
India had reached the threshold of victory in Cape Town on Thursday, but the run out of captain Harmanpreet Kaur changed the whole story and the team suffered a defeat that the players would not forget for years. In such a situation, former Indian captain Diana Edulji has raised questions on Harmanpreet Kaur and the entire women’s cricket team. Edulji felt that the India skipper could have done better. She said that she was jogging while taking the second run.
Diana Edulji said, “She is thinking that the bat is stuck, but if you see the second run, she was jogging. Why are you taking it easy when you know your wicket is so important? You have to play professional cricket to win. Dives to save those two runs. This is professionalism.” He further said, “They do not give up till the end and we are not ready to fight at all. You can’t keep falling till the end all the time.”
Diana Edulji said, “Harmanpreet Kaur was casual in the second run. They thought that she would reach comfortably. Sunil Gavaskar told us in the 1970s that you have to learn to get your bat to the crease on every ball, only then you get into that habit. This is not the first time that India has been eliminated in the knockouts. In the ODI World Cup 2017, he lost to England in the final. After this, in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup in 2018, England again became an obstacle in front of him. The Indian team had also lost the final of the last T20 World Cup played in Melbourne and the gold medal match of the Commonwealth Games last year. Australia defeated him on both these occasions.
The performance of the Indian team in the league stage of the current World Cup has been inconsistent, but they were in a winning position in the semi-finals. Despite loose fielding and average bowling, India were in a position to win with the batting of Harmanpreet and Jemimah Rodrigues. In such a situation, the question arises that why the Indian team does not get favorable results in such pressure matches? Is it a team selection issue or fitness that led to poor fielding or team strategy or something else?
India’s fielding was very poor on Thursday. Due to India’s poor fielding, Australia was able to score 25 to 30 runs more. When Shefali Verma dropped an easy catch, wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh missed an easy chance to stump out Meg Lanning. Former Indian captain Diana Edulji said, “The India Under-19 team that won the World Cup looked more fit and agile on the field. I bet most of our senior cricketers will not be able to clear the yo yo test (which is mandatory for the men’s team). Due to poor fitness, we cannot expect good fielding. The strike rate of Indian batsmen was also not good. Shefali, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia and captain Harmanpreet had a strike rate of less than 110 in the tournament. In current cricket, a strike rate of less than 130 is not considered good.
Star batsman Smriti Mandhana scored runs at a strike rate of 138.5, but her performance lacked consistency. Shafali has been running in poor form for a long time and the bowlers are cashing in on her weakness of short pitch balls. In such a situation, opener S Meghna needs to be given a chance. Not too long ago, while spinners were considered India’s strong side, they disappointed in the World Cup. Rajeshwari Gaikwad could not take a single wicket in the tournament, while Deepti and Radha Yadav also did not perform well against England and Australia.
Renuka Singh did well in the fast bowling department but Shikha Pandey could not impress on her return. The lack of options in this department is a matter of concern. Left-arm fast bowler Anjali Sarvani was not played even in a single match. Meghna Singh was also not given a chance, now we can expect that some new talents will emerge in the fast bowling department from the Women’s Premier League. The absence of a permanent coaching staff for the Indian team also raises questions. The Indian Cricket Board will have to avoid the practice of associating National Cricket Academy coaches with the women’s team. The next World Cup is to be held after 18 months and India should start preparing for it from now itself.
FIRST PUBLISHED : February 24, 2023, 21:11 IST