Women's T20 World Cup final: A positive result despite no trophy, says Shantha

India’s run to the T20 World Cup final was “no mean achievement,” believes Shantha Rangaswamy, former India skipper and current member of the BCCI Apex Council.

Despite the bitter aftertaste the defeat has left, Shantha Rangaswamy was certain that the tournament would have a positive effect.   -  REUTERS

Despite Sunday’s crushing loss, India’s run to the T20 World Cup final was “no mean achievement,” believes Shantha Rangaswamy, former India skipper and a current member of the BCCI Apex Council.

“We have to give the team credit,” Shantha said. “To focus just on the defeat and not on the earlier wins is not entirely fair. So we should congratulate Harmanpreet Kaur and team. It would have benefited them if they had played the semifinal. The eight-day break didn't help.”

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The 66-year-old felt that the failure of India’s premier batters Harmanpreet, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues and Veda Krishnamurthy through the competition had made the team over-reliant on teenaged Shefali Verma.

“The final was the first match Shefali didn’t click and you saw the collapse. I feel a Mithali Raj-type player would have been an asset. Harman's poor run in the last two years is concerning. Jemimah is perhaps one of the best we have; an excellent fielder, great bat and a future captain of India. But it's time they justify the tag of senior cricketers.”

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Even as she was impressed by Shefali’s performance, Shantha felt there was immense scope for improvement. “She is an exciting talent and we want her to play long-term. For that, she needs to get fitter. She has brilliant hand-eye coordination like [Virender] Sehwag and [Kris] Srikkanth, but her fielding and running between the wickets are below par. She has a great example in the team -- Harman, who is one of the fittest.”

However, despite the bitter aftertaste the defeat has left, Shantha was certain that the tournament would have a positive effect. “After the 2017 World Cup final loss under Mithali, the number of women taking to cricket tripled and quadrupled. So I am positive this time despite not winning. Broadening the base is our dire need and for that purpose, Harman and team have done well.”

But more should be done, felt Shantha. “The BCCI, of which I am a part, hasn't done enough to introduce the U-16 tournaments across India, which act as the feeder system. In the last meeting, Sourav [Ganguly] said it would be done soon. I hope they make it mandatory for all states because only then will you get your next Shefalis, Harmans and Mithalis.”

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