Mithali: 'The loss is heart-breaking’

“I just controlled myself at the ground from crying. Or else, it would have reflected on my teammates badly. The defeat takes time to sink in, having come so close to winning it,” the 30-year-old Mithali told Sportstar from London on Monday evening.

England fielder Natalie Sciver is congratulated after running out India batsman Mithali Raj during the ICC Women's World Cup 2017 Final.   -  Getty Images

 

Indian captain Mithali Raj says she was in tears almost right through last evening when the team reached the hotel after the loss to England in a nail-biting World Cup final on Sunday night.

“I just controlled myself at the ground from crying. Or else, it would have reflected on my teammates badly. The defeat takes time to sink in, having come so close to winning it,” the 30-year-old Mithali told Sportstar from London on Monday evening.

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“The loss is certainly heart-breaking. We failed to handle pressure of playing in a World Cup final, a factor which helped England win the trophy,” she reasoned out. “We shouldn’t have lost the last five wickets the way we did. It is a pity that the lower-order failed to come good,” she said.

 

 

“This is exactly the reason I always feel that we should have a very good second-string team. The difference between India and other leading sides like England and Australia is that their fringe players take very little time to adapt to international standard whereas we take two to three years,” Mithali said.

“The gap between domestic and international cricket is huge. It is important to bridge that one with more and more tournaments,” she said.

The skipper felt that the girls have proved the critics wrong through their performances. “The biggest positive for me is reaching the final itself. No one gave us a chance even to make it to World Cup itself when we went through the qualifiers in Colombo,” she said.

 

 

 

Playing at Lord’s a fabulous experience

“It was a truly fabulous experience to play in front of a capacity Lords Cricket Ground. It made us feel important and like being treated on par with men’s cricketers,” the Indian captain said.

On whether she regretted any particular decision in the final, she said “in retrospection, there will be ifs and buts. But I am not the kind to blame any bowler or a batsman for the loss. It is just that sometimes things don’t work your way,”

Referring to her run-out, Mithali revealed that the spikes got stuck and she was in no way to push herself then. “I am not the one not to dive to reach home,” she said.

Appreciate the support

“We all appreciate the kind of response in the social media from the Prime Minister to almost all the celebrities in different walks of life,” Mithali said. “It is a new kind of experience for all of us and did help us a lot to know that so many were following our show. I remember in 2005 when we reached the World Cup final, except for the family members and a few friends, no one else was bothered,” she said.

Most satisfying moment? “Beating the top teams in the World Cup. This we have never done in the same championship before. A hint that this team is capable of bigger deeds. I want to see this team to remain in the top four till the next World Cup,” Mithali said.

The leading run-getter in ODIs said she would have a go for another couple of years in international cricket before calling it a day.

Mithali suggested three important aspects to give a new direction to women’s cricket in India. “Telecast every match India plays to capture the imagination of the followers, market and branding the game in a more professional manner and have a League, something like IPL, which should encourage more girls to take up the game,” she concluded.

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