What a stirring display by the Indian women’s team to come back after the loss to New Zealand. The Indians hammered the West Indian attack with Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur scoring strokefilled centuries and taking the total past 300.
The way the West Indian openers Diandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews started with a century partnership in barely 12 overs, it looked like the Indians had a fight on their hands, but once again they showed great nerves and there was no sense of panic as the spinners came and wove their magic and lo and behold the Windies women were dismissed for 162 and India ended with a huge win. What’s been really heartening is the way the girls have encouraged each other and have not been fazed by any situation. They have a couple of tough games coming up and if they see those through, then they give themselves a very good chance of bringing the cup home. The game against England becomes crucial because England and Australia are generally the teams to beat in women’s cricket and with England having lost both its matches it is under pressure to qualify. Australia is a team that also has given the Indians trouble but our girls should take heart from their last time against them in the World Cup in England in 2017 when Harmanpreet Kaur’s brilliant 171 took the game away from the Aussies.
In the Test series against Sri Lanka, India barely broke a sweat in the first Test in Mohali which it wrapped up in three days. It was a totally disappointing display by the Sri Lankans, especially their batsmen who showed little heart apart from a shortness of technique and temperament too. Again, in Bengaluru, India won the pink-ball Test in less than three days. This time however, the Lankans can claim that the pitch didn’t quite help them with the ball turning in the first session of play itself. India’s fast bowlers used the pink ball under the lights to great effect. The spinners, too, came into play and it was always going to be tough for Sri Lanka to take the game into the fourth day.
The early finish will work for the IPL boys as they get a couple of days more to relax at home before they go back into a three day quarantine before the start of the IPL.
There have been a couple of late withdrawals ostensibly because of bubble fatigue which has left the franchises with a headache as to who the replacement could be. The BCCI would do well to whitelist these players for they knew beforehand that with two new teams added to the competition the tournament would be a bit longer in duration and so they could have avoided wasting everybody’s time by not going into the auction if they were going to pull out at the last moment. If there’s an injury then it’s fine or if there’s an international then also it’s understandable if a player opts to play for his country.
Dean Elgar, the South African captain, played a masterstroke when he appealed to those South Africans who were likely to miss their series against Bangladesh to remember that they got IPL contracts because of their performances for South Africa and so they should give their country, preference over the IPL. That’s not strictly true as players such as Chris Morris last year, and now Faf do Plessis haven’t played for South Africa and yet picked by the franchises. Every cricket board gets 10% of the players’ auction price and that in the cases of Australia, South Africa and the West Indies in particular can amount to millions of dollars. So, it would be prudent for these boards also to ensure that they do not plan any fixtures from around late March to the end if May. Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies Boards ensure that their seasons end before the IPL so that their players can go and participate in the best T20 league in the world and they get their 10% to give a NOC to their players.
That said, playing for your country should always be a priority over any other cricket.