India were knocked out of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup this weekend after losing to South Africa by three wickets in a thrilling league match at Hagley Oval.
After sizzling half-centuries from Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj and Shafali Verma took India to a respectable 274/7, South Africa were cruising with Laura Wolvaardt top-scoring with 80 and sharing a 125-run stand with Lara Goodall (49).
But a straightforward chase turned into India making inroads. It required the calmness of Mignon du Preez to take South Africa home on the final ball of the chase, requiring 3 runs from the last ball. A devastating no-ball by the tiniest of margins gave South Africa the advantage, and du Preez’s her whip through mid-wicket broke the hearts of Indian fans as South Africa aced their highest successful chase in ODIs. It also meant that the West Indies sealed the final spot for the semi-finals.
Absolutely heartbroken for 🇮🇳 Final World Cup hurrah for Raj and Goswami who have been incredible stalwarts. Big ❤️ to Deepti – takes a lot of courage to bowl the final over and nearly got them there. 🇿🇦 have just been too good under pressure #CWC22
— Isa Guha (@isaguha) March 27, 2022
Such an emotional roller-coaster. The pressure in such games is enormous. Wasn’t to be for India today. At the end of 7 games, it comes down to a quarter inch over the line……
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 27, 2022
So many “what-ifs” from last night, but the one thing I’m sure of is that I’m proud of this team. It wasn’t easy standing in the cold, by the boundary rope, watching India’s World Cup dream end. Come back stronger, you girls are my heroes. 🇮🇳 https://t.co/9r2wPgO7hH
— Sanjana Ganesan (@SanjanaGanesan) March 28, 2022
It was an up-and-down journey for India at this World Cup, where they touched the high of scoring 317 against the West Indies and in the very next match, crumbled to 134 all out against England.
“There have been ups and downs like we won against the West Indies but lost to England and Australia, even New Zealand. We didn’t set up a little bit in the initial phase of the tournament. But the way we made a comeback, especially in today’s game and the way girls have responded, whether it is batting or bowling, they have done really well. It was a good game overall if we want to judge it from the eyes of people, crowd, viewers and for the sport,” said India captain Mithali Rajin in the post-match virtual press conference.
“For the Indian team, it is the end of the road in the tournament. A lot of good things have come out of the tournament like Yastika, Shafali started to get some runs, the spinners have done well. There are areas as a team we want to work on moving forward. But overall, yes definitely, we could have done better in the initial phases of the tournament.”
Mithali specifically pointed towards the 62-run loss to New Zealand, where the batting was tied down by disciplined bowling from the hosts and the four-wicket loss to England, where rookie off-spinner Charlie Dean took four scalps.
“Usually that’s how we reflect when we look back, certain things you could have changed. But again, that’s how it is. Those two games (against New Zealand and England), the team could have done better. We really didn’t really put up a fight in those two games, I felt. Like the rest of the games where despite losing against Australia, again that was a very tight game. Those two games are something that we look back at and there are a few areas that we could have done better.”
She signed off by hoping that the support for the women’s team from the cricket enthusiasts will not go down.
“As players and as a team, we look forward to rebuilding and to try to give our best whenever we compete in the next big event. Every ICC event is an opportunity for the team to do well because these events are followed by everybody around the world and an opportunity for all the cricket lovers to look up to women cricketers to play the best standard,” she said.
“It’s our job as players to put our best standard out there so that many young girls take up the sport so it’s an opportunity as players that we look forward to doing our best in these events.”