The lack of quality pace-bowling support for veteran fast bowler Jhulan Goswami remains a matter of concern for the country’s women’s cricket team, feels former India captain Anjum Chopra.
Regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time in the women’s game, Jhulan began her journey in international cricket nearly two decades ago and, at 38, she is still going strong but without enough help from the other end on a consistent basis.
“No bowler to complement for Jhulan… that’s been there for a long, long time. That remains a concern for the team to not have a supporting role alongside Jhulan Goswami. Whereas many teams are looking to field three seamers, we are struggling to field two,” Chopra told PTI during an interaction.
“Shikha Pandey was not picked for (the series against) South Africa but went to England (earlier this year). Meghna Singh is there… it’s also about taking those chances for the players.”
The 27-year-old Meghna, a pacer, is one of three uncapped players included in the India squad for the ongoing tour of Australia.
In recent times, the Indian team management, including head coach Ramesh Powar and batter Smriti Mandhana, stressed on regularly scoring 250 plus in ODIs, and Chopra said it will not happen overnight.
“A 250-run target doesn’t happen overnight, we need planning, preparation and skill level to get there. It can be 250-plus, 300 or 350. 250 is now a par score as women’s ODI scores have become higher over the past few years,” Chopra said.
Chopra, who was the face of women’s cricket in India and played in six World Cup finals, refused to think too far ahead when asked about next year’s ODI World Cup.
India are currently touring Australia where they are engaged in a series comprising three ODIs (one already over), three T20Is and a one-off day/night Test.
“The series against Australia has just begun, there are more matches to go. The World Cup is still far ahead. It’s anybody’s game in the World Cup.
“The World Cup is the next big tournament and all the preparation is towards that. You need game time towards enhancing yourself.”
While some believed Virat Kohli would have been better off quitting white-ball captaincy completely instead of relinquishing the job in only T20Is, Chopra said the batting maestro needn’t necessarily jump the gun.
“He has mentioned that he wants to focus on Indian captaincy towards the 2023 ODI World Cup. I don’t think he needs to jump the gun. He is 32 now and whatever number of years he has to offer to Indian cricket, he still has a long time.”
It has also been felt by many that giving up leadership responsibilities may help him get back his touch with the bat. Kohli has not scored an international hundred since November 2019.
“When someone sets the kind of benchmark that Virat had set complementing his skills level, I think he is allowed that kind of leeway,” she said.
Asked about Kohli’s recent decision to step down from the Indian T20 captaincy after the upcoming World Cup, Chopra said, “There will always come a time for every player to realise what is the format they can slightly step away from.
“It’s pretty okay… there has been so much chatter or loud sound coming that he has not delivered in T20… Anybody can have a slight dip in performance.
“He (Kohli) knows a little time off from one of the formats may help him. It’s an individual decision. And as long as Virat Kohli, the match winner is there, Indian cricket will only gain.”