It has been over a week since India played its first-ever World T20 finals. The young Indian side that first played the tri-series in Australia featuring England and Australia and then the T20 World Cup in Australia had a fantastic tour Down Under, feels India head coach W.V. Raman.
Reaching the finals in the tri-series as well as racing to the finals in the ICC Women’s World T20, Harmanpreet Kaur and co. definitely played some good cricket over the last one month.
The Indian team remained invincible in the league stage as they defeated Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka to set a semi-final date with England. However, the penultimate game of the World Cup was washed out without a ball being bowled, which meant that Women in Blue steered their way into the finals, thanks to their performance in the group stage.
On March 8, when the defending champions Australia took on India at the jam-packed Melbourne Cricket Ground, the first time finalists failed to hold on to their nerves and it was the big match pressure that got the better of them. The first 30-40 minutes did not go India’s way as they spilled catches of the openers Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney, both of them went on to score 75 and 78 not out respectively. It is difficult to make a comeback once you are down and out in the first few minutes of the game, especially in the T20 format. At the end, the four-time champions bagged their fifth title as they beat India clinically.
In the hindsight, India gained a lot from the World T20, one of which is the rise of 16-year old Shafali Verma as an opener. Apart from this, the Indian spinners have shown that they can win you matches single-handedly. A good mix of the right arm and left arm spinners makes the Indian spin attack lethal.
Raman in an exclusive chat with Amol Karhadkar for SportsStar said, “Spinners have been calling the shots for a couple of years now. We need to identify a couple of fast bowlers and it will take them some time to become consistent performers. It’s not an easy job, bowling fast, especially for Indian girls who are comparatively frail than Caucasian girls. Fast bowling is a lot of hard work, be it male or female. The challenges are going to be slightly more in women’s cricket.”
Further addressing the dismal performance of India’s big batting guns in Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur, India’s head coach stated, “I personally felt that they were overkeen to do well. I think once they saw the team perform in the tri-series, they thought this may be a great chance to claim the summit and must have probably felt they needed to up their game. Sometimes, even for the most experienced or acclaimed performers, a tendency to get overkeen comes in. That was probably the reason because you can’t attribute it to anything else. Both of them have performed, for long, across formats. Perhaps they got overkeen and wanted to do well desperately.”
All in all, Indian women who did not always consider T20 as their strength have certainly established themselves well in the shortest format. Going forward, they will take a leaf out of their book written during the tour of Australia and make changes to their game to excel in T20 cricket.