India’s decision to not include Mithali Raj for a crucial ICC Women’s World T20 semi-final against England seemed to have backfired when the Harmanpreet Kaur-led side were beaten by 8 wickets with 17 balls to go. It was the second match in a row that India had played without the experienced batsman but it raised further question marks because the surface was expected to be a tricky one with little chance of a big total. And that is exactly how it turned out.
Asked to comment on the decision to not play her in the semi-final, Harmanpreet said that she has “no regrets” as it was decision taken keeping team’s interests in mind. At the toss, which India won, Harmanpreet said: “It’s not about not selecting Mithali, it’s about keeping a winning combination.” India collapsed from 89/2 at one stage to be bowled out for 112 runs with eight wickets falling for 24 runs.
“Whatever we decided, we decided for the team. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, no regrets. I’m proud of the way my girls played through the tournament,” Harmanpreet said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“We did really well against Australia, and that is the reason we just wanted to go with the same combination,” she explained at the press conference. “She (Mithali) opens. We need someone after Smriti (Mandhana) and me who can bat for us. Sometimes you click, sometimes it doesn’t click.”
Harmanpreet said the game could have been different if India finished with 30 runs more. “Definitely, it was not enough to tell you, but still I had enough faith that, if we could have bowled better, we could’ve won the game,” said Kaur. “But it’s part of the game sometimes. I think if we had 140-150 then definitely we would have won the game.”
The Indian captain termed it as a learning curve for her young team. “This is a learning for us because we are a young team. Sometimes you have to change your game according to the wicket. England bowled really well, read the wicket really well. It was not an easy total to chase, and our bowlers bowled really well. We stretched the match till the 18th over,” Harmanpreet explained.
She did admit that mental strength in big games is an issue for the side and more games will only make things better. “I think we are a young team and we still need to work on our mental strength. If we can work on how to play under pressure, that will change how we play these games.” India lost to England in the final of the 50-over World Cup last year and in the final of the Asia Cup T20 tournament as well.