On Sunday, India had bowled, fielded and batted extremely well to put themselves in the driver’s seat against the mighty Aussies. However, poised for a win when Harmanpreet Kaur (65) and Jemimah Rodrigues were going great guns in their 96-run partnership that took them to 118 for two in the 15th over chasing 162, India, needing just 44 off 33 balls, self-destructed in spectacular fashion, losing eight wickets for 34 runs in 30 balls to crash to 152 all out.
After making them fight for every ball for much of the final, India handed over the gold medal to the Southern Stars on a platter. Yet again. It was a case of so near and so far for the Indian women’s team.
“Congratulations to the Indian women’s team for winning silver . . But they will go home disappointed as it was their game tonite. . @BCCIWomen,” tweeted former India skipper and current BCCI president Sourav Ganguly.
Congratulations to the Indian women’s team for winning silver ..But they will go home disappointed as it was their game tonite ..@BCCIWomen
— Sourav Ganguly (@SGanguly99) 1659901351000
Another ex-India captain, Mohammed Azharuddin, was scathing in his criticism of Indian women’s team’s implosion with the bat in the final. “Rubbish batting by the Indian team. No common sense. Gave away a winning game on a platter,” he tweeted.
Rubbish batting by the Indian team. No common sense. Gave away a winning game on a platter. #INDvsAUS #WomensCricket #CWG22
— Mohammed Azharuddin (@azharflicks) 1659899579000
Batting brilliantly in the final, Harmanpreet would blame herself for not finishing the job, but it was the failure of the allrounders, Pooja Vastrakar (1) Deepti Sharma (13), Sneh Rana (8), Radha Yadav (1), and the specialist ‘keeper-batter Yastika Bhatia (2) to take India home that rankled.
It wasn’t the first time that this has happened to the Indian women’s team in a big final. In the 2017 ODI World Cup final at Lord’s against hosts England, India, placed at 191 for three in the 43rd over while chasing 229, were cruising towards a win, before losing their last seven wickets for 28 runs in 35 balls, to fold up for 219. Eeeringly, the slender margin of India’s defeat was exactly what it was on Sunday-9 runs!
“This was a game we should’ve won. Both Harmanpreet (edged scoop shot off a spinner) and Jemimah (bowled after making room to hit Megan Schutt on the off-side) were out to poor shots. When Harmanpreet was hitting boundaries with conventional strokes, where was the need for her to play that scoop for a single?” Tushar Arothe, who was the coach of the India women’s team in the 2017 ODI World Cup, told TOI.
For all the progress that the Indian women’s cricket team has made over the years this was their third big final in the past five years-the batting does have a tendency to collapse badly in a knockout game. In November 2018 in their Women’s T20 World Cup semifinal against England at North Sound in West Indies, India were 89 for two in the 14th over, before losing eight wickets for 23 runs in 34 balls! They went on to lose that game by eight wickets.
Clearly, this team is lacking a world-class finisher. “Our top order is fine, but we need to work a bit more on our lower order. Harmanpreet and Jemimah batted so well in the final. We had so many batters in our lower order, and all we needed was slightly more than run a ball. They should have chipped in to win us this match,” felt India’s former women’s chief selector Hemlata Kala.