Disappointed with SL loss: Raj
India’s loss to Sri Lanka at the Brabourne Stadium ended their 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup campaign. Unable to restrict the Sri Lankan batters, the Mithali Raj-led side was set to chase a formidable target. However, they were bowled out for a paltry total in response.
Reflecting on the game while addressing the media after the match, Indian skipper Mithali Raj said, “Honestly, I didn’t expect Sri Lanka to score 282 runs against us [with] the kind of bowling attack we have. When you chase a big total, it is very important to have a very good start. We lost a quick wicket and as we built a little bit of partnership between [M] Thirush Kamini and me, which really didn’t become big. And then after me, when we lost Harmanpreet Kaur, the [loss] of top three batsmen in the span of less than fifty runs, that’s where I thought that the match is going to be tight.”
Asked whether, they had at any stage revised their plan to target the total required to qualify for the next stage , Raj replied, “Our first intention when we went in to bat was to win the game and to chase 283, but as we lost wickets that definitely was playing in the minds of the batsmen who were going in to bat, because all were aware that if we have to qualify, we have to score 251.”
It was Eshani Kaushalya’s 56 off 31 balls in the end that had helped the opposition set a huge target for India. Asked if they had a special plan against her, Raj explained, “We always have a plan. Now we do have the technology, video analyst. But then again how much ever you plan, you have you to implement it on the ground.”
While speaking about the performance of the spinners, Raj said, “Everybody knew that the wicket wouldn’t really help the spinners. What I expected was that the pacers will do a decent job. But the way they started after the first wicket fell; the partnership between the one-down [batsman] and the opener [gave them a solid foundation]. No doubt they played some good strokes, but I think they got a lot of runs in the first fifteen overs.”
Analsying the bowling further, Raj agreed that the bowlers provided too much width to the batsmen to start with and added, “I think the Sri Lankan batsmen have scored most of their runs square of the wicket. So, that itself shows as a bowler where you are bowling. But all the bowlers were off colour today. We can expect one or two bowlers to be off colour on a day, but not all of them.”
Explaining the inclusion of Shubhalakshmi Sharma in place if N Niranjana in the side, the Indian captain said, “Niranjana did get wickets in the last two games, but she was expensive as well. So, we thought [if] you could get in another pacer, she would get an outing and would be raring to go.”
Speaking about India’s fielding in comparison to the other teams, she said, “I don’t think that we are far behind. We have fielded very well in this tournament; no doubt about that.”
Speaking about the loss and how disappointing it was for her, Raj said, “As a captain it is disappointing, but as a player I do realise that there is always fluctuation; happens in sport sometimes you are very good, you are in your best of form. [But] sometimes you really don’t take off but then that’s part sport. [...] As a captain I am really disappointed that I could not get the team [further] into the tournament.”
However, the senior player was picked a few positives for the Indian team moving forward. Asked about the way ahead for Indian women’s cricket, she said, “I really can’t talk about the future, but as I said in the presentation ceremony, there are definitely a lot of positives that we can take from the young players like Thirush Kamini who scored a hundred and we have Poonam Raut since the last two years who has been performing for India and then there is Harmanpreet Kaur and there is Karuna Jain who has made a comeback and scored a fifty. So I think these are the positives. It is very disappointing to be out of the tournament, but I am sure these girls will perform well for India in the future.”
Although they are out of the Super Six picture, India will face Pakistan this Thursday for the seventh place play-off.