Ahead of the Women’s T20 World Cup, former cricketer Diana Edulji has lashed out at the Women in Blue for succumbing in pressure situations, besides questioning the lack of a promising talent pool in women’s cricket. Her remarks came after the Harmanpreet Kaur-led team went down in the finals of the T20I tri-series against Australia, where they had been set a target of 156 for a win.
Despite a stroke-filled 66 off 37 balls by Smriti Mandhana, the visitors were unable to hold on to their nerves as they lost regular wickets to ultimately go down by 11 runs. Edulji also criticized the poor running between the wickets by the side, even calling the players “lazy.”
“They are so lazy that they never try for a second. These are the things that make all the difference. It is a single or a boundary, there is nothing in between,” the 64-year-old told PTI.
The former Committee of Administrators (CoA) member of BCCI was also concerned about the inconsistency that was displayed by the side in games, and admitted that it is unlikely that the team will return with the World T20 Cup, that commences in Australia from February 21.
“There is something wrong with this team. This is a team that can win every game and it does win from an unlikely situation but the next game it is losing from a comfortable position like it did today. They are simply not consistent enough.“
“They have all the facilities at their disposal now, at par with men, and yet they have not been able to play consistent cricket and win ICC trophies. If they play like the way they are playing, they will make the semifinals again (at T20 World Cup) but I don’t see them winning the trophy.”
The side had reached the finals of the 50-over World Cup in 2017 but went down by nine runs, and crashed out in the semi final of the 2018 Women’s T20 World Cup despite a winning run in the group stages.
Harmanpreet Kaur’s dwindling returns as captain
Edulji also highlighted the poor showing with the bat by Harmanpreet Kuar ever since she was made captain of the T20I side, and believed that giving up the role could allow her to play her natural game.
“Both Harmanpreet and Jemimah need to pull up their socks. Maybe Harman should give up captaincy and play her natural game. Something seems to be troubling her. But who else takes over then. If Smriti is handed captaincy, it might affect her batting too.“
While the skipper has an overall better record while leading the team, in the last 12 months, her performances have faltered.
Though Kaur has a decent average of 30.75 from February 14, 2019 to February 14, 2020, her strike rate has dipped below 100 in this period. Batting in the middle order, the star is expected to take on the responsibility of leading her side to a win more often than not with big hits in the death overs. With Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana giving the team handy starts at the top, Kaur has to up the ante in the last four overs, which is what has been lacking in the last few months.
While her performance in wins has been encouraging, her showing in losses is what will be a major cause of worry as India heads into the World Cup. With an average of 14.25 and a strike rate of a poor 74 in defeats, the team often ends up on the wrong side when Kaur is unable to get into her groove. The pressure of leading a relatively inexperienced side is immense, yet the right-hander has shown why she is so highly regarded after her monstrous 171* in the 2017 World Cup against Australia in the semis or her century in the 2018 T20 World Cup against New Zealand, and the nation will hope she can bring her best Down Under as well.