It’s been a week since India’s women’s cricket team defeated England in the third and final ODI to complete a series sweep. But the debate over Deepti Sharma running Charlie Dean out at the non-striker’s end at The Lord’s refuses to die down.
After returning to India earlier this week, Deepti had said that Dean was warned a few times - a claim refuted by England captain Heather Knight. But India captain Harmanpreet Kaur wants to ‘move on’ from that episode and focus on the future.
“We were noticing for the last couple of games that she was taking a long strides [outside the crease] and taking undue advantage. We were discussing all these things, but it was not in our plans to get her out like that,” Harmanpreet said.
“Everyone was out there to win the game. Whenever you are on the ground, you want to win at any cost, and the most important part is that you have to play within the rules of the game. And whatever we have done is within the rules. Bahot discussion ho gaya (We’ve discussed this enough) and now, we want to focus on the future,” the India captain said.
India begins its Women’s Asia Cup campaign against Sri Lanka in Sylhet on Saturday. Over the last few months, Shafali Verma’s form has been a concern for India. But Harmanpreet backed her young colleague. “She is doing well at the nets. If you talk about her performance, it’s part of life. Sometimes you play well, but when you go into a match, you cannot continue that. But she is looking good. It’s just a matter of time, and once that lean patch is over, you can get your form back. Every day she is working hard,” Harmanpreet said.
“This is a great platform where you can express yourself and play free cricket. You don’t have too much pressure. We will try to give enough match time so that she can get her confidence back.”
The Indian women haven't had much success of late in the T20 format, but at the continental level, Harmanpreet Kaur's team will start as a favourite. And Harmanpreet, who has had a memorable so far, believes taking up responsibilities has helped her immensely. “Ever since I started playing cricket, responsibility is something I have enjoyed. Leading the team is the biggest responsibility, and I am enjoying that. The coach, support staff, teammates, BCCI are appreciating, and we all are working together. When you work as a team, you can achieve good results. I am getting all the backing, and the focus has been on performance. I have told the team-mates that they have my backing, and they need to go and express themselves,” Harmanpreet said.
An in-form India also looks to carry forward the momentum of a historic ODI series sweep in England. “When we went to England, we wanted to play good cricket. We did not put any pressure that we have to win or do really well. We were just going through the process. Our practice sessions were very calculative… Everything was planned. We were working on something, and when we went there, we did not think of creating any history,” she said. “We were not surprised with the result because we knew that if we work as per plan, results will show automatically…”
The Asia Cup will also be an opportunity for the youngsters to impress, and with Jemimah Rodrigues back in the side, the batting unit looks sorted. “We are going to play a lot of T20s in the coming months, because the T20 World Cup is nearing. We want to play more games in that format so that we get a good number of matches under our belt. That is the target,” Harmanpreet said.
“The players who have not got enough chances can also get more match time before the World Cup. Jemi is back, and she batted in the nets today. She is fit and looking absolutely fine,” the Indian captain said.