Jhulan: 'We are focused on winning a world title'

India has never won the coveted World Cup, narrowly going down to host England in the final at the Lord’s in July last year in what was its second defeat in a summit clash.

Jhulan Goswami became the first woman cricketer to take 200 ODI wickets.   -  AFP

Veteran India pacer Jhulan Goswami on Thursday said winning a World Cup title remains her ultimate dream even as she basks in the glory of becoming the first woman cricketer to take 200 wickets in One-Day Internationals.

Down with a heel injury, Goswami returned home today after being ruled out of the ongoing T20I series against South Africa. She will now head to National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru to recover within four to six weeks time.

READ: Jhulan ruled out of T20 series against SA

India has never won the coveted World Cup, narrowly going down to host England in the final at the Lord's in July last year in what was its second defeat in a summit clash.

But 2018 provides the team with another opportunity to take a shot at glory with the World Twenty20 hosted by the defending champion West Indies starting from November 9-24.

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“The preparation has begun from the series in South Africa. With about a year left, it’s the perfect time for us to prepare in the right way,” Jhulan told PTI  after returning home.

“If we win, it will be like an icing on the cake. Obviously, I began playing keeping the World Cup in mind always. It does not come every year. It takes four years. It’s like winning an Olympic gold,” said the 35-year-old, who is in her 16th year of International cricket.

“The process takes a long time, it does not happen overnight. It’s the ultimate dream. The first target will be to be top four.”

Jhulan said the process has begun and the upcoming series against England, Australia and Asia Cup will provide ample opportunities to sharpen the skills.

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“We will be well-prepared. We have a lot of matches lined up. After the series in South Africa, there will be a tri-nation T20I series against England, Australia. There is also Asia Cup,” she said.

Australia women will tour India in March next year for a three-match ODI series as part of the ICC Women's Championship, followed by a T20I tri-series involving the host and England.

Giving credit to the Board for helping in the preparation, Jhulan said legendary Sachin Tendulkar’s pep talk before heading to South Africa motivated the team.

“It gave a positive vibe in the team. He spent about one and half hours, talking to each one of us. He said about the South African conditions and how to adapt and play well there,” she said.

“After the World Cup, the hype was so high - it was about holding on to the momentum. That was our focus. We wanted to keep playing like where we had left.

“Everyone was focused on giving their best, and play well as a team. We had a fine preparation for the South Africa series, beginning with warm-up matches there.”

Jhulan further said the side has included four newcomers - Tanya Bhatia, Jemimah Rodrigues and Pooja Vastrakar - for the series in South Africa keeping in mind the World Twenty20.

“Last two years, we were focused on playing one-dayers. Now it’s the time for T20s. Concentrating on the process now.”

Jhulan bagged her 200th wicket in her 166th ODI in Kimberly on February 7 when she dismissed South African opener Laura Wolvaardt in the fifth over with an outswinger. India went on to beat the host by 178 runs.

“Never thought about the milestone when I started my career. In a long career, you are bound to achieve milestones. I never ran after a milestone,” the lanky pacer said.

Records are meant to be broken and among the current lot, West Indies off-spinner Anisa Mohammed (145) has an outside chance of going past Jhulan.

“Nothing lasts forever but I would prefer a medium-pacer breaking my record,” Jhulan said.

Incidentally, in the same match, she sustained the heel injury and could not train the next day as MRI revealed the nature of the injury.

“It will take some time to recover. I have to accept the fact. It will take four to six weeks. I had an injury in 2010 and before the World Twenty20 in 2016 as well. It’s nothing new and I hope to be fit soon,” she concluded.