Harmanpreet Kaur-led India are set to return to action after winning a silver medal at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games earlier this month, with three T20 Internationals and as many ODIs in England from September 10.
Ahead of the team’s departure for the tour, captain Harmanpreet Kaur addressed a virtual press conference on Tuesday and answered questions on a range of topics – including fast bowler Jhulan Goswani’s reported retirement, playing more batters in the XI, giving opportunities to youngsters, and more.
India did well to defeat hosts England in the semifinal at CWG 2022 before going down to Australia. In the final, India were in a good position in the chase before their batting order collapsed and they ended up losing by nine runs.
Throughout their CWG campaign, India chose to play with just four specialist batters and that was a strategy that came back to hurt them in the final. At the end of the tournament, skipper Harmanpreet had said that she would like to have an extra batter in the side and that the team will work on that going forward.
Asked about this on Tuesday, Harmanpreet said on Tuesday, “I feel no matter which format you are playing, you need to have at least six batters in the side. We were lacking because we didn’t have that batter in the side, but now we have added two more batters to our squad. We want to give them opportunities, because having two-three bowlers and two-three all-rounders in the side can give you great balance.”
She also spoke about the two new options in the side to improve the batting depth.
“I’m really excited to give opportunities to the young players who have just entered the team. I feel they can bring a lot to the team, especially Kiran Navgire and D Hemalatha because I have personally seen the way they batted in the domestic season. I think it’s the right platform for them to bring those things which the team was lacking. It’ll be a great opportunity for them,” the skipper said.
Harmanpreet also paid tribute to Goswami, who is reportedly set to play her last international match during the upcoming England tour. While there is no official confirmation from the BCCI or the player herself, it would seem that the Lord’s ODI will be the legendary pacer’s final match.
The 39-year-old is the only bowler to take more than 200 wickets in the ODI format – 252 wickets from 201 matches. Harmanpreet had in fact made her international debut in the 50-over format under Goswami’s captaincy at the 2009 World Cup.
“She goes to every game with the same kind of passion which is unmatched, nobody can beat that,” said Harmanpreet.
“When I made my debut she was the captain, it’s a great opportunity for me that I would be leading the side when she would be playing her last ODI. When I entered the team, she was the one who was leading from the front. I’ve learnt a lot from her. Nobody can fill in her shoes.”
Harmanpreet added: “She’s someone who always puts in the same kind of effort, bowling two-three hours. She still puts in the same kind of hard work she used to during her early days. I’ve never seen her make any changes to her practice regimen.
“You hardly see any bowler doing like that, or even at the nets while batting... nobody can bring that passion she has for cricket. As a cricketer and a person, I’ve learnt a lot from her. She’s a great example for all of us. There are many back home who have grown up watching her and then took up the sport.”
Goswami, who made her international debut in 2002, has played 12 Tests and 68 T20Is for India, apart from the 201 ODIs and six World Cup appearances. She retired from the shortest format in 2018 and played her last Test in October 2021.
Her previous ODI appearance was during the ODI World Cup in New Zealand in March this year. She sustained a side strain before the final group match against South Africa and also went on to miss the Sri Lanka tour in July.
Since the World Cup, Mithali Raj has announced her retirement from international cricket before the tour to Sri Lanka while the management had not revealed any details about Goswami’s future.
Harmanpreet said the team would do its best to make it a special occasion for the legend.
“We are talking about it being her last tournament,” said Harmanpreet. “It would be very special for her and for us. We would try to create some great moments for her so she can go back with some special memories.”
Watch Harmanpreet Kaur’s full press conference here.