As the Bangladesh women cricketers basked in the glory, after beating India in the final of the Asia Cup T20, the team’s chief coach, Anju Jain, would have wanted to walk towards the Indian camp to share a few moments with the dejected players.
After all, Anju — a former India women’s team captain — knows how it feels to concede a title. Nonetheless, with the prize distribution ceremony starting soon, she did not get a chance to meet the Women in Blue. Having served Indian cricket — first as a player and then as a coach — for more than 25 years, Anju took charge of the Bangladesh cricket team in May. Interestingly, the team two more Indian support staff — Devika Palshikar, the assistant coach— and Anuja Dalvi, the physiotherapist.
In her first major assignment with an international team, Anju has been able to guide her team to victory. “It is certainly a great feeling. It has been a short stint with them so far, but I am really happy with the way the girls responded,” Anju told Sportstar from Kuala Lumpur.
While she is impressed by the way the team has put up a spirited fight against a much-superior Indian side, Anju admits that it was a different feeling sitting in the opposition dug-out. “It happened during the group-stage match against India too. It was definitely awkward not to be in the Blues and sitting in the opposition, but as a coach, it has been very satisfying. We are looking to improve from here,” Anju said.
To mark the historic victory, the team manager hosted special team dinner, while the Bangladesh High Commission gave a warm reception to the players and support staff.
When the team came into the tournament, not many thought Bangladesh would clinch the title, and Anju says that his advice to the team was to ‘make its presence felt’. “I told them that we should not be content just by participating. We have to make it count,” she said.
“They had a series against South Africa and then I joined the side. Our main objective is to qualify for the World Cup. Before the tournament, we discussed that we need to improve, and after the game against Sri Lanka, there was an improvement.”
Though Bangladesh had the last laugh, it was a humdinger. With the team needing two runs in the last ball, the atmosphere in the dug-out must have been pretty tense. Anju admits that ‘it was pretty exciting’.
“We started well, then India bounced back, then again, we were back. I was confident because we had some good strikers in the end and it was more like a run-a-ball situation,” she said.
While the team returns home on Monday, Anju, Devika and Anuja will return to India for ‘visa work’ ahead of the team’s tour to Ireland. After shifting base from India, it has been a good start for ‘coach’ Anju and she would be hoping to keep the momentum going.
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