Updated: March 10, 2020 7:19:09 am
In less than a year, India have suffered knockout defeats in three major ICC events. In July last year, Virat Kohli’s team had gone down to New Zealand in the 50-over World Cup semifinal. Last month, the colts lost to Bangladesh in the U-19 World Cup final. The Indian women’s team’s failure against Australia in the T20 World Cup is third in this list. This losing streak should work as a wake-up call for the Indian board headed by one of India’s most inspirational captains, Sourav Ganguly. The three-time losers must learn from the reverses and address them institutionally.
Having said that, Harmanpreet Kaur and her team winning against Australia in front of 75,000 fans at the MCG would have been an upset. India had beaten the hosts in the group stage, but Australia were too good to have another bad day, especially on their home patch. Meg Lanning’s side has had an aura in women’s cricket pretty much akin to Steve Waugh’s boys. From skill-set to fitness and ruthlessness, they are a cut above the rest. The ICC women’s T20 rankings, where Australia sit at the top with 291 rating points, attest to their supremacy.
The time has also come for women’s cricket in India to move away from the patronising narrative of “well tried” and “well played”. The BCCI needs to dissect vital cricketing issues — big-match temperament, team selection and consistency. The team’s two senior-most players, Harmanpreet and Smriti Mandhana, had a forgettable World Cup. The captain returned with 30 runs from five matches, while Smriti could manage 49 runs from four outings. Questions must be asked about their form. Consoling the heart-broken team is fine but they also need to learn from their mistakes. In 2017, they had lost the 50-overs World Cup final against England after a nervous batting collapse. In 2020, the same story has been repeated. To be as ruthless as the Aussies, India needs to be critical about its team that finished a distant second.
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