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In a cricket-crazy nation like India, two players are vividly remembered in their late 30s –Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But how many of you know, Jhulan Goswami's fiery spell can trouble any opponent that too at her 38?
With 231 wickets in 184 matches, she is the highest wicket-taker in women's one-day international format. After having retired from the shortest format, her sole focus has become the 50-over format, and we, the fans, get to see it whenever she takes the ball in hand.
Currently, team India has been taking on South Africa in a limited-overs (5 ODIs and 3 T20Is) series. After having started with a defeat, they have bounced back in the second ODI, courtesy of Jhulan Goswami's 4/42, Smriti Mandhana's unbeaten 80 and Punam Raut's 62* as well.
Let's have a look at Goswami's 10-over spell that dismantled South Africa's batting line-up.
India won the toss, and the captain Mithali Raj didn't waste time to elect to field first. The broadcasters believed as the game was playing on a black-soil pitch, unlike the red-soil pitch from 1st ODI, batting would have been a better option.
Well, Goswami changed the equation. South Africa opener Lizelle Lee who is known for her struggle to face in-swingers, had to face Goswami's deadly spell. She bowled quite straight at the beginning and gave one wide as well. Although Lee opened her account with a boundary at the point of a short ball bowled by Jhulan, her stay in the middle was cut short by Jhulan only.
She bowled a length ball outside the off-stump, and it came in. Lee tried to flick but badly missed and was hit on her pad. With no DRS in place, she was trapped before the stumps for a mere 4. Goswami finished her first spell with 19 runs and one wicket from 5 overs.
She came to bowl again in the 30th over. By then, Indian spinners did their job quite well. The visitors were 113 for 4, with the set batter Lara Goodall playing at 39 and Marizanne Kapp at 10. Just when they looked comfortable against spin in the middle, Mithali Raj brought back the senior pro and guess what?
She provided another breakthrough in the very first ball. A full-length ball at leg and Kapp tried to flick at the leg side but got a leading age, and Deepti Sharma did the rest at mid-wicket.
Isn't it amazing to have someone in your team who can pick wickets anytime?
If you think those two scalps were her best from the 2nd ODI, then you are mistaken! The best is yet to come.
She came to bowl her 9th over when the scoreboard was showing 143/6 after 37 overs. A lot can happen in the last ten overs, and we are well aware of that, so did Jhulan Goswami.
After conceding a single in the first two balls, she came with a full-length delivery outside off to Nadine de Klerk; she came to drive it but missed and got an inside edge. All she could do to see her leg-stump got hit in one bounce. Having started the over with 101.1 kph and then 104.2 kph, she changed the pace to 87.7 kph to remove the batter, which simply shows how experienced a bowler she is.
Well, the cherry on top was definitely the wicket of Shabnim Ismail that too in the same over. A length ball on the middle went across her bat as she tried to defend, but it went past the edge and uprooted the off-stump. From 69.1 kph to 88.7 kph, the change of pace was not the only thing behind this dismissal. She held the ball like an off-spinner and pitched it up like an off-cutter to the off-stump that did the job and Goswami picked up her 4th.
However, for her, she does not feel like she is bowling well until she gets the batter bowled. "The most important thing for a medium pacer, at least for me, is that I don't feel satisfied until I bowl someone out. When I get the batter bowled, then I feel 'Yes, I am bowling well'," Jhulan said Smriti Mandhana in a video posted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on its website.
She finished with 4/42 in her 10-over spell, her seventh four-wicket haul in ODIs. With this, she became the third player with most four-wicket hauls in ODIs, after Anisa Mohammed and Cathryn Fitzpatrick.
However, it would have been a five-wicket haul for her if she could bowl a fair delivery in the 36th over the game. She was bowling her 8th over and was about to clean up Trisha Chetty with a full-length delivery on leg.
Chetty flicked it towards square leg and Mandhana, who was fielding there, took a sharp catch. Unfortunately, the pace spearhead had overstepped, and she failed to claim her third fifer.
While she won the 'Player of the Match' award, she didn't forget to mention the crucial role of the pitch. "When you're playing a 9 o'clock match in a place like Lucknow, there's a bit of moisture in the wicket. If you're able to hit the ball in the right area, the ball was holding back. It was not easy to play shots then. It was much easier in the second innings on such a flat wicket. You just needed to hit through the line. If you're bowling first on this wicket, it is an advantage for the bowlers," she said in the post-match press conference.
No adjective could really describe a player like her, who says, "Representing India is the biggest motivation for me. I don't think you have to look elsewhere for motivation." With age, her hunger for wicket grows, and that is well-supported by her forte - the pace and accuracy.
One thing can certainly be said: Jhulan Goswami – the epitome of pace and grace!