Aug. 9: Jhulan Goswami fondly remembers the matches with boys in Mumbai's MIG cricket ground as part of the Indian Airlines (now Air India) Under-19 team.
"The matches with them were unbelievably competitive.... At times there would be physical fights over umpiring decisions.
"None of us gave an inch to the other," the highest wicket-taker in women's ODIs with 195 scalps said.
Jhulan's team, which included future international players like medium pacers Rumeli Dhar and Devika Palshikar, even ended up beating the boys.
"But they wouldn't rest till they beat us in return. They would call us to say, ' Didi, aap log kab khel rahe ho? Chalo match lagate hain'," she said.
"When we batted, all hell would break loose. They would happily forget we were girls and peppered us with bouncers. But I must admit... in the end it all helped us become better cricketers."
Jhulan spoke to Metro on the sidelines of a ceremony, organised by her employer, Air India, to felicitate her on Monday.
She was promoted to manager and captain Rohit Bhasin, regional director, eastern region, AI, presented her with a citation and cash reward.
Jhulan, now the oldest member of the Indian team at 34, had bagged a contractual job as customer service supervisor at Indian Airlines in 2000. In 2016, a year before she was named India captain, she got a permanent job with the airline.
The veteran of 164 ODIs, 60 T20s and 10 Tests, the least played format in the women's game, is still going strong. And she attributes it to the lessons learnt as a youngster.
India lost to England by nine runs in the World Cup final last month.
But Jhulan had picked up three wickets in the middle overs to restrict England to 228 after a brisk start, returning with an economy rate of 2.30 runs for every over.
Pacers like Shikha Pandey from her team and from other teams have sought bowling tips from her.
"Recently, in England there were girls from Pakistan and even from the host country wanting to know the lengths they should look to hit and the pace variations."
The World Cup has taken women's cricket to the homes of Indians, Jhulan said.
"Earlier, when I met people they would say it was a pleasure meeting me. Now, they say it was nice to see me beating Australia in the World Cup and I feel so good," she said.
Speaking about the loss to England in the final, the pain is unmistakable.
"There's been a lot of introspection but everything shouldn't be discussed in the media.... All I can tell you is that the wound of those nine runs will hurt us till India wins the World Cup."