From facing Hadlee to turning the Indian women’s team around

India women's team head-coach Tushar Arothe talks about facing New Zealand great Richard Hadlee and the changing landscape of women's cricket in India among other things.

Tushar Arothe: "When I first began associating with the Indian women’s team, in 2008 as the fielding coach, hardly anyone bothered about the game."   -  P.K. AJITH KUMAR

There is hardly any tinge of regret when Tushar Arothe talks about those days in 1997 when he narrowly missed out on playing for India. The then BCCI secretary had sought his passport and the measurement for his India blazer had also been taken.

“I came to know that Sachin Tendulkar, who was the Indian captain, had asked for me as a replacement for the injured Javagal Srinath, but it was another player who was selected,” Arothe told Sportstar. “I feel I may have been considered by the selectors before that too, from the 1988-89 season onwards.”

In 1988, he had, in fact, played for West Zone against John Wright’s New Zealand in Rajkot. When he came out to bat, West Zone had been reduced to 23 for four. Richard Hadlee, the master of swing, was proving unplayable that winter morning at the Municipal cricket ground. He accounted for the first four wickets conceding little.

“I loved the challenge, but it was very difficult playing Hadlee,” Arothe said. “He was varying the speed with each ball and of course, he was swinging it too.”

The young Baroda off-spinning all-rounder, however, went on to make 56 and helped his team post a decent total in an innings studded by Hadlee's nine wickets (later on that tour, the legend would become the first player to take 400 Test wickets).

“It was indeed an honour playing against Hadlee and doing well,” he said. “It was a very good New Zealand attack, which also included Ewen Chatfield and John Bracewell.”

He fared well with the ball, taking two wickets, including that of Mark Greatbatch, the man who starred in Kiwis’ stunning campaign in the 1992 World Cup with his pinch-hitting.

Arothe, however, has had his own glory at a cricket World Cup — as the coach of the Indian women’s team. The women in blue reached the final of the World Cup in England last year.

That performance suddenly put women’s cricket in the limelight in India. “When I first began associating with the Indian women’s team, in 2008 as the fielding coach, hardly anyone bothered about the game,” he recalled.

“Well, not so long ago, there weren’t even press conferences before the team went on tours. But after the World Cup, the players had a meeting with the Prime Minister.”

India’s finest moment at the marquee event came when it stunned Australia in the semifinals. But it lost all the three ODIs to the same team in the series that concluded here on Sunday.

The Indian women have an opportunity to redeem themselves, with the Twenty20 series against Australia and England starting in Mumbai on Thursday.

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