Christchurch: India captain Mithali Raj on Sunday rued the absence of veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami from a must-win match against South Africa in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, which they ultimately lost by three wickets in a dramatic fashion, here.
Goswami’s absence from a crucial match for India was due to a side strain suffered in a training session. It was the first time in her five appearances for India in the ODI World Cup that Goswami was absent from the playing eleven. In her absence, India’s pacers Meghna Singh and Pooja Vastrakar couldn’t pick a single wicket in returning identical figures of 0/37 in their respective six overs as South Africa won by three wickets on the final ball in chase of 275.
“I’m sure she would have made a difference because as I said, with so many years of experience playing different teams and different surfaces, and similar pressure situations – even having a senior player like her to lead the bowling attack, purely it would have made a difference. But having said that, I’m sure she might be feeling very disappointed that the last game of the Indian team (in this World Cup), she could not be part of, but then that’s how it is.”
“She had a side strain during the training session and she couldn’t recover. I really wanted to win this game so that we could give her another game to play the semifinals. But then it probably didn’t go our way,” said Mithali Raj in the post-match virtual press conference.
Mithali Raj was happy with how Deepti Sharma fared in the match despite overstepping the crease with her front foot while taking the wicket of Mignon du Preez in the final over. Overall, in her ten overs, Deepti conceded just 41 runs for no wicket and conceded four runs off her first four balls of defending six in the final over before the no-ball came into picture.
“I think she brought all her experience of playing for India and overseas into today in the absence of Jhulan Goswami. Obviously, Jhulan brings a lot of experience in terms of bowling department. With Deepti Sharma, we got an all-rounder in. The way she bowls in the T20 format and one-dayers, she knew where she needed to bowl and had a lot of clarity in bowling the last over.”
“But I guess the no-balls hasn’t been sort of working in India’s favour. I remember the match against Australia last year and it was also the last over. But having Deepti as a bowler in terms of batter/bowler, she didn’t play in the last few ODIs but the way she bowled today was exceptional.”
Mithali Raj then showered praise on her deputy Harmanpreet Kaur for her all-round performances in a losing cause. With the bat, Harmanpreet looked scratchy in her knock of 48. But it was with bowling and fielding where she brought India back into the match.
With her part-time off-spin, Harmanpreet bowled for the first time in the tournament and picked up wickets of a dangerous Laura Wolvaardt and captain Sune Luus to end with figures of 2/42 in eight overs. She also affected run-outs of Lizelle Lee, Marizanne Kapp and Trisha Chetty.
“Her performance was exceptional in today’s game, just not through her batting. When I gave her the ball, she came there to bowl. Even her contribution in fielding was immense. Those very important run-outs and crucial wickets, was an all-round performance.”
“Having senior players like them to get their experience to play the most important game helps with the team. She had been struggling with fitness issues. But I guess, when you play over the years, you try and manage around it, go out there and give your best,” concluded Mithali Raj.