2022 CWG WOMEN’S CRICKET
Before the nerves of the situation reached India, they made a game of the big chance, doing a fantastic job of limiting Australia to 162. © AFP
It must have been a sense of deja vu for India as another batting meltdown got the better of them in a grand final. Sunday’s (Aug. 7) effort in the Commonwealth Games final against Australia was far better than what they endured in the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup final, but the result – to finish second – was the same.
Australia are the defending champions of the T20 format, with top-notch resilience in tough matches. But India brought some of their fire into the chase through a third-wicket stand between Jemimah Rodrigues and captain Harmanpreet Kaur. They picked up the pieces 22-for-2 in the third over, and went on the chase with a partnership of 96 runs on just 77 balls. The pursuit of Australia’s 161/8 – and gold medal – was well and truly on, until Megan Schutt cleared Rodrigues for a run-a-ball 33. What followed was a batting slump that Harmranpreet must have regretted in the end.
“Every time in the Grand Finals we make the same mistakes over and over again [with the bat], it’s something we need to improve,” said Harmanpreet. “We don’t make these mistakes in the league phase or bilaterally. It blocks our mind somewhere. I’m someone who’s always looking for one more hitter on the side. Unfortunately, we are working on it. Once we get this, this thing [collapsing] will go away.
“After losing two crucial wickets, the way Jemi and I beat was indispensable at that time. You have to keep your nerves. We were almost there. Maybe if Pooja [Vastrakar] or I was there, we could have won the game. But that’s part of the game; sometimes some things you can’t control. It’s a great learning experience for us,” she added.
Before the nerves of the situation reached India, they made a game of the big chance, doing a fantastic job of limiting Australia to 162. Much of that success was due to the sharpness of the India on the pitch – demonstrated at various points in the first set. .
“If you want to beat this Australian team, you have to play well. If you give them easy runs, they can easily take the game. We discussed that at the team meeting and Radha set us an example,” Harmanpreet said.
Just as Australia built a great partnership for the second wicket, Yadav made some breakthroughs with commendable efforts on the pitch. Yadav was quick to react to Australia’s attempts to sneak in a single with an elbow to the side of the leg as she covered good ground and fired an underarm shot at the forward end where Lanning was taken aback. Yadav then took a great diving catch to the back point in the next to fire Tahlia McGrath. India raised their standards as the game progressed, with players like Meghana Singh and Deepti Sharma also taking exceptional holds, including a one-handed blinder from the latter midway through to put end to Mooney’s stay in the 18th.
“The effort we put in today is something we wanted to do. I know the last 2-3 overs [in the chase] weren’t in our favor but throughout the game the way we played was outstanding to watch. We have been working on our land for a long time. I’m happy with how we lined up today. It’s something we wanted to do as a team.”
Although India failed to clear the final hurdle, it was a memorable campaign for India. Their only two losses in the tournament came against the eventual gold medalists, as they beat one of the tournament favorites – and hosts – in the semi-finals.
“I know we could have easily won the gold, but something is better than nothing, at least we got the silver. We deserved it for so much hard work. If not the gold , we’re happy with what we got today,” said Harmanpreet. .
India may have finished short in the most important match, but that didn’t stop Harmanpreet’s counterpart – Meg Lanning – from praising them, believing that India would soon dominate the sports in all formats. Harmanpreet fully agreed.
“[As a team] we are on the right track, we just have to keep working hard. As Lanning said, we’re not far from dominating all formats. We are improving as a team and the time is not far to start winning back-to-back,” said Harmanpreet.