IND vs ENG 2022-23: India women gear up for unforgettable Lord's dance for retiring Jhulan Goswami
India and England will clash in the final ODI on Saturday at Lord's. It would be the last international game for the retiring Indian legend Jhulan Goswami. The Indian women are gearing up for an unforgettable Lord's dance.
On Saturday, legendary Indian pacer Jhulan Goswami will be walking into her cricketing sunset at the historic and iconic Lord's cricket ground in London. The Indian women's team will aspire to make it a memorable swansong by registering a clean sweep on English soil. Playing at Lord's is the ultimate dream for any cricketer. Scoring a century or taking a fifer is a different high, while playing the final career match of an illustrious career at the 'Home of Cricket' is only an honour a few chosen ones get to endure. Legendary former Indian skipper and Little Master Sunil Gavaskar didn't get that opportunity, and neither did Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, or Glenn McGrath get that opportunity to step down the hallowed Long Room stairs for one last time.
Even Goswami's colleague for about 20 years, Mithali Raj, couldn't retire from this venue. But call it destiny or design, Goswami's last hurrah is transpiring at Lord's. There couldn't have been a more iconic setup as the 5 feet 11-inch legend walks her way through that Long Room, with the MCC's club members standing up and her teammates giving her a 'Guard of Honour' as she enters the ground.
A series already won with an inalienable 2-0 lead, Harmanpreet Kaur and her co would leave no stones unturned to ensure a suitable farewell for one of Indian cricket's 'poster girl'. Having lost the T20Is, India bounced back nicely against a weakened England side in the two matches, dominating while chasing and setting the target.
If the most significant gain is Harmanpreet getting her touch and free-flowing form with twin innings of unbeaten 74 and unbeaten 143, Shafali Verma's patchy form throughout the tour has been a concern. Harleen Deol has been doing well and establishing herself as a dependable middle-order batter. However, with Goswami's retirement, the seam attack comprising Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur and Pooja Vastrakar would need to ante up.
In England, skipper Heather Knight and all-rounder Nat Sciver's absence have hugely impacted the team's balance.
Goswami -- Impact then and now
The last time the Indian women's side won an ODI series in England was in 1999 when Goswami had not debuted until then. So, as she appears for her 204th international match, the Indian team's esteemed "Jhulu Di" would be aware that she is a contented soul.
An ICC silverware would have been nice, but some things are not meant to be. She might recall many things when she takes up her bowling mark for the last time and strides up that Lord's slope to add to her 353 international wickets tally. From a small town Chakdah in West Bengal to winning the 'ICC Woman Cricketer of The Year' and leading the Indian pace attack for 20 years, one can only place their hat on her.
Taking the first local train to Kolkata and starting with routines at North Kolkata's Shradhhananda Park wasn't an easy journey. Even after her India debut, when she would return home from Chakdah station, sitting in an open Van Rickshaw. When she made her India debut, Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh were not even born, while Jemimah Rodrigues was possibly a baby back then.
Harmanpreet might have been a dreamy-eyed Moga girl wanting to play cricket. Now, when Jhulan is retiring, Harmanpreet is the captain and Shafali, Jemimah, Richa, and Yastika Bhatia are her teammates. And yes, with the Women's IPL about to start, women cricketers have central contracts, with most driving Mercedes, BMWs and Audis.
Jhulan has been the bridge between the struggles of second-class compartment travels, living in dorms and youth hostels, with common washrooms, business-class travels and staying at showy five-stars with proper central contracts and financial protection. In between, plenty of water has flown through both Hooghly and Thames during her ambitious journey.
The bowl to Meg Lanning in the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup semis will be one such cricketing action you would want. As India aims for a 3-0 whitewash after two dominant displays, one can confirm there would be no let-up in her vigour. There also wouldn't be another Jhulan Goswami.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Sabbineni Meghana, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Sneh Rana, Renuka Thakur, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Harleen Deol, Dayalan Hemalatha, Simran Dil Bahadur, Jhulan Goswami, Taniyaa Bhatia and Jemimah Rodrigues.
England: Amy Jones (c & wk), Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Alice Davidson-Richards, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Eclestone, Freya Kemp, Issy Wong and Danni Wyatt.
Date and day: September 24, 2022 (Saturday)
Venue: Lord's Cricket round, London
Time: 3.30 PM (IST)
Where to watch (TV): Sony Six, Sony Ten 3, Sony Ten 4 (Also available in HD)
Where to watch (Online): Sony LIV
(With inputs from PTI)