It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the decision to drop Mithali Raj during India’s crushing semi-final loss to England in the World T20 did not quite workd out well, but skipper Harmanpreet Kaur said that she has “no regrets” about it.
The captain said it was a decision taken keeping team’s interests in mind even as India were outplayed on a slow pitch by a clinical England side.
Indian batting collapsed as they managed only 112 with eight wickets falling for 24 runs as the visibly upset veteran’s blank stare sitting in the dug-out said it all.
At the toss, Harmanpreet had said that it was “not about not selecting Mithali, it’s about keeping a winning combination,” with India sticking to the XI that defeated Australia.
The decision was questioned, among others, by former England captain Nasser Hussain and former Indian Test player Sanjay Manjrekar on air. However the Indian skipper defended her decision, after the result as well.
“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.
Mithali’s strike-rate, especially in the powerplay overs, has been an issue for a while now but considering that Taniya Bhatia hasn’t been able to accelerate and Veda Krishnamurthy was in poor form in the middle order, the decision to drop a seasoned campaigner boomeranged on India.
“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 and her young team needs to garner a bit more of it.
“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.”
England captain Heather Knight said that she was worried during powerplay overs when Smriti Mandhana had gone on the offensive but lauded her spinner Kirstie Gordon and Sophie Ecclestone for bringing them back in the game.
“The match got away from us a bit in the Powerplay but the spinners bowled really well to bring us back. Kirstie has been outstanding on her first tour. Sophie, young spinner as well, has shown a lot of quality over the last year or so.”
Knight said that she wasn’t concerned about the form of her top players like Tammy Beaumont and Dani Wyatt because conditions for batting was challenging in St Lucia.
“I think the conditions have been very tricky in St Lucia and when we’ve come here [as well]. No worries at all about [the form of Beaumont and Wyatt]. The final (against Australia) is going to be a great game, hopefully we’ll have a great atmosphere and a brilliant game of cricket,” she said.