It will be an emotional Sunday evening for Jhulan Goswami and several Indian cricketers of past and present. When Harmanpreet Kaur & Co. play the Commonwealth Games final at Edgbaston, Goswami will be glued to the television.
A veteran of 281 internationals, Goswami understands what a team goes through in high-voltage encounters. And she does not want to add to that pressure by offering advice to Harmanpreet’s team. “It’s a matter of pride that this is the first time women’s cricket has been included in the Commonwealth Games, and our team has reached the final. As a side, they have performed exceptionally, and it is certainly a wonderful moment for the side,” Goswami tells Sportstar.
Goswami was a key member of the Indian team that lost the final of the Women’s ODI World Cup in 2017 against England. Five years later, a young Indian outfit took sweet revenge against the Nat Sciver-led side, defeating England by four runs in the CWG semifinal on Saturday.
“This team has been playing T20 cricket for a long time. Over the last few years, they have been playing in overseas conditions regularly, so those experiences have helped the players immensely,” Goswami says.
“The players have understood the importance of the tournament (CWG) and have played their roles to perfection. Everyone worked extremely hard and played for a common goal. It cannot be a one-woman show, and such outstanding performances can only happen when everyone puts their heart and soul.”
Goswami last played international cricket in the ODI World Cup in New Zealand in March this year, where India failed to reach the knockouts. But India bounced back with consistent performances in the bilateral series against Sri Lanka. It has followed it up by reaching the Commonwealth Games final.
Goswami is hoping India can sustain the momentum in the final. “Just like the World Cup, even CWG is a big event. I want to see the Indian women’s team winning the gold medal and the tri-colour fluttering at Edgbaston. That’s all I want to see as a well-wisher of India’s women’s cricket,” she says.
After going down to Australia in the opening game, India regrouped and came back stronger with wins against Pakistan and Barbados. “They have excelled in every department, oozing with confidence. The best part is that everyone is taking up the responsibility and playing as a closely knit unit,” Goswami says.
Fast bowler Renuka Singh Thakur has had a successful campaign so far, bagging nine wickets in four games. Sneh Rana proved her death-over prowess by defending 14 in the final over in the semifinal. “The bowlers have been outstanding; the batters have done their job well - so that explains that the team has worked on all areas with passion and dedication.”
In her career, Goswami has witnessed several ‘so-near-yet-so-far’ moments, and ahead of yet another major final, she has her hopes pinned on her colleagues. History beckons Women in Blue!