Disappointed with early exit: Mithali Raj
While India beat Pakistan in the seventh place play-offs the 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup, their two consecutive losses in the group stage knocked the Mithali Raj-led team out of contention for the big prize itself.
Speaking to the media after their six-wicket win, the disappointed Indian captain said, “Well, the win has not made us happy because we know being such a good team, the way we started our first game against West Indies, we thought we had a good chance of making it to the Super Sixes. To exit the tournament here, the girls are very disappointed. Yes, it was a must-win game, because we didn't want to lose again and finish last.”
Raj, who scored an unbeaten century and ensured a victory for the team, added, “I think it was important to play throughout the innings. I didn't even think I would reach a hundred. It was important to get 193.”
“I think in the last two innings I didn't spend much time at the wicket. I wanted to spend some time in the middle. It was important to do that as we lost two early wickets; so we needed a partnership between me and Harmanpreet Kaur. Chasing 193 is still a difficult task on this track, which is why we wanted to have one good partnership and one person batting through. So I've played a lot of such innings; this was one such innings.”
“Individually, it doesn't feel great. As a player it feels terrible, but you need to move on and see to it that you don't repeat it and be positive in the coming series. As a senior player, you need to set an example for the youngsters. Most of them depend on me to give them the positive vibe. It is a very young side, very talented side, we need to be together to keep performing,” she added.
“Every player is hurt. For us the World Cup is over today [...].” the India Women’s captain said.
Talking about the opposition, Raj said, “I think Pakistan is a good side. They have done extremely well against bigger sides like Australia. We have been following the league matches of other sides as well. Pakistan was a very decent side, and on a slower track any side can pose a threat. They did have good spinners. So, I think it was important for us to win this game.”
Looking back on her run as a captain, Raj said, “The World Cup is a tournament where every player feels the pressure, irrespective of whether she is a debutant or the most experienced player. Yes, as a captain I had a good season in 2005, [and] we finished No.3 in 2009. We beat Australia in Australia and then this exit. It has been a mixed bag for me as captain.”
Asked about the next World Cup, Raj said, “I don't know about 2017. I plan series by series; [over] four years a lot of things happen, so I'm not sure about that.”
“It’s again down to our preparation. There will be changes from World Cup to World Cup. There is always a transition in every team. Some of the seniors remain while there will be some youngsters who will come in. It is important to see how the youngsters turn into experienced players by the time the next World Cup comes around.”
Raj also appreciated some of the efforts put in by the youngsters in the team while reflecting on this World Cup. “I think Harmanpreet Kaur is capable; she is the vice-captain. It is easier for a batter to be captain, because there is no pressure of bowling and setting fields. [M] Thirush Kamini is also young. So yeah, one of the youngsters will have to lead the team going forward.”
“We need to work on our consistency in all games.”
Picking the women from Down Under as strong contenders to lift the trophy, Raj said, “I obviously feel Australia, because they are an all-round side. They are the favourites.”