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regular-article-logo Thursday, 23 May 2024

Women’s game needs vision to get that edge

Spinners never got desired assistance and fared poorly when compared to their Australian counterparts in T20 World Cup semi-final

Our Special Correspondent Calcutta Published 25.02.23, 05:02 AM
Harmanpreet Kaur after her ‘unfortunate’ run-out in the semi-final against Australia.

Harmanpreet Kaur after her ‘unfortunate’ run-out in the semi-final against Australia. Twitter

The familiar heartbreak in knockout matches for Indian women returned to haunt them at Newlands in Cape Town on Thursday night when they fell short of the 173-run target by five runs.

Images of former India captain Anjum Chopra consoling a distraught Harmanpreet Kaur after the match or players seeking divine help with folded hands in the dugout during the closing stages will recap another heartache for the women.

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Yes, Harmanpreet’s run out was the turning point as she failed to glide her bat into the crease, one of the basics that is taught in coaching schools. Still, the likes of Richa Ghosh and Deepti Sharma should have taken the responsibility in the death overs. Only 40 were needed off 32 deliveries at that stage.

Instead, India failed to make their second successive T20 World Cup final. “We probably had no right to win at one point,” admitted Player of the Match Ashleigh Gardner.

This is not the first time this team has gone through such anguish. In the Commonwealth Games final last year in Birmingham, India had to settle for the silver against the Australians after being 118/2 in their chase of 160.

The story of distress doesn’t end there. In 2018, India lost to England in the T20 World Cup semis in the Caribbean and two years later to Australia at the MCG in the final.

Things never went India’s way from the start in Cape Town. Dropped catches, misfields, erratic bowling and ugly running between the wickets ruled the roost. Yet they came close mainly because of Harmanpreet and Jemimah Rodrigues’ 69-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

“My intention was to give the captain some empathy because that’s all I can offer from the outside. It was an emotional moment for both of us. It was a player-to-player moment with her. We were just trying to lessen our sorrows by sharing them,” said Anjum in a video shared by the ICC.

“India have reached the semi-finals a lot of times. And have lost a lot of times.

“This is not the first time I have seen her play like this. I have also seen her battling injuries and health issues,” said Anjum.

It is for the BCCI to take a close view of their repeated failures instead of basking in the glory of the Women’s Premier League set to be launched next month. For starters, a clear vision is needed for the women, much like Rohit Sharma’s team.

The world’s richest board should stop the shuffling of support staff for the women. For the record, the team had three different head coaches for each of the last three T20 World Cups.

The absence of a spin coach, one of its strongest traits, is believed to have hampered the preparation for the likes of Deepti, Radha Yadav and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. The BCCI had instead sent Troy Cooley, the fast bowling coach at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), to assist the bowlers in keeping with the conditions in South Africa.

While Ramesh Powar, who was coach since 2021, was suddenly drafted into the NCA, Sairaj Bahutule, who was part of the victorious women’s U-19 team in South Africa recently, was asked to join Dravid’s brigade for the series versus Australia.

The spinners never got the desired assistance and fared poorly when compared to their Australian counterparts in the semi-final.

Yet Hrishikesh Kanitkar, who was put in charge after being a batting consultant with the senior women’s team once Powar was pulled out, has worked remarkably for such an enterprising performance.

The BCCI needs to have a proper scheme in mind to win the big moments. A dedicated support staff for the women like in other countries would be among the basic requirements. Only intricate planning can help the team transform themselves into a winning unit.

Shouldn’t have lost: Captain

Cape Town: The morale-shattering defeat is playing havocon a crestfallen India captain Harmanpreet Kaur.

Harmanpreet’s bat got locked while trying to complete a second run during the semi-final against Australia on Thursday and that proved to be the game’s turning point. Her untimely dismissal led to the team’s five-run defeat.

“It is very difficult to control myself. I don’t know. Right now, I am sitting in a hangover,” Harmanpreet said during the media interaction.

She wore dark shades to hide her tears during the post-match presentation ceremony. No one knows the pain more than the skipper.

“I don’t understand how it is going on. But after this, when we go to the room, we will know how many more days it will take. But I think we played good cricket. That’s all I can say,” said Harmanpreet, who battled high fever and dehydration to score a scintillating 52 off 34 balls.

“If I had stayed till the last moment, we could have definitely finished the match one over earlier as we had the momentum.

“The moment I got out, the momentum shifted from India to Australia, I personally felt it was a turning point. It is disappointing because we shouldn’t have lost like this.”

PTI

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