What did Mithali Raj say after India’s disappointing exit from World Cup 2022?

On Sunday after a disappointing loss to South Africa by three wickets, India made an early exit from the World Cup as the Women in Blue could not qualify for the semi-finals. The runners-up of the 2017 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup were handed a last-ball defeat by the Proteas on March 27 at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

 

India lose to South Africa in a tense encounter by 3 Wickets. PC: ICC/Getty Images
India lose to South Africa in a tense encounter by 3 Wickets. PC: ICC/Getty Images

 

After the match, India’s captain Mithali Raj addressed the questions asked in the virtual media interaction. There was a question from one of the journalists about the 39-year old captain’s future plans. Raj answered, “You’ve not given me even an hour to think about my future, to go through and process what has just happened today. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on my future, considering that the sort of game that we just played and as emotions are still there. It needs to settle down before I could sort of have clarity on that and give an answer to that.”

Raj is only the third cricketer across men’s and women’s games to feature in six World Cups. Before the mega event, the Indian captain had dropped hints about her retirement, when she said that life has come full circle for her and that she is looking forward to finishing the journey. Raj played her maiden World Cup in 2000 in New Zealand and her last too in New Zealand in 2022.

Apart from Raj, the other player who played in her last World Cup is Jhulan Goswami. It was unfortunate that Goswami, who is the leading wicket-taker in the Women’s Cricket World Cups, was not fit to play the last match against South Africa because of a side strain. It was clearly evident that India missed the services of their fast bowling sensation.

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Indian Women's Cricket Team at World Cup 2022. PC: ICC/Getty
Indian Women’s Cricket Team at World Cup 2022. PC: ICC/Getty

 

India blew hot and cold in this edition of the World Cup as they won three out of their seven matches in the league. India beat Pakistan, Bangladesh, and West Indies, while they lost to Australia, England, New Zealand, and South Africa.

After the loss to South Africa, captain Raj said, “There will be generations of players coming and going. The team definitely will have to get going. After every World Cup, there is always a change in the team. There will be fresh faces in, there will be some experienced players in. Every team has to go through this process of rebuilding the team, especially after the ODI World Cup, so that they prepare for the next tournament in another four years. We are no different. The Indian team will probably go through the same transformation.”

Despite India’s early exit from the World Cup, there were some positives for the team. Yastika Bhatia looked good at the top of the order. The left-handed batter offered flexibility with her batting order; she could open the batting as well as come in at number three. India’s other opener in Shafali Verma, towards the end of the tournament, showed glimpses of her talent. The right-handed swashbuckling batter muscled a delectable half-century in India’s last outing against South Africa.

Apart from Bhatia and Verma, it was pleasing to see Harmanpreet Kaur contributing with the bat, ball, and on the field. Coming from a relatively poor form in international cricket for the last two years, Kaur made the most of this World Cup to regain her lost touch. She scored a century and two half-centuries in seven matches. Finally, Pooja Vastrakar and Sneh Rana were the other players who were impressive with their all-around abilities.

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Had it not been for them, coming good against Pakistan in India’s World Cup opener, the Women in Blue would have lost to their arch-rivals for the very first time in the history of women’s ODIs.

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I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.

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