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"Would often ask Jhulan Goswami in the nets, 'why are you spitting fire?'" - Mithali Raj

Jhulan Goswami is considered one of the most fierce fast bowlers for Indian women. As she retires from international cricket, Mithali Raj has revealed how Jhulan was ferocious even in the nets, as she always spit fire.

Would often ask Jhulan Goswami in the nets, why are you spitting fire? - Mithali Raj-ayh
First Published Sep 24, 2022, 6:17 PM IST

Indian pacer Jhulan Goswami's devotion to the sport was such that she would "spit fire" even during her bowling practice session in the nets. Also, her longtime teammate and skipper, Mithali Raj, was often at the receiving end. India's finest women batter Mithali, who also called time on her superb career in July, welcomed her contemporaneous and fast-bowling legend Jhulan into the former cricketers' club on Saturday. Having shared the dressing room for nearly two decades, Mithali and Jhulan witnessed the massive growth of women's cricket in the nation and shared multiple notable wins and painful upsets.

Talking to PTI about Jhulan's big mark, longevity and uncompromising hard work over the years, Mithali spoke about the 'Chakdaha Express'' early days when she made her way into the Indian side as a 19-year-old. "We are the same age, so we have that comfort level and communication. It was always easy to reach out to and speak to her. Someone who was always high on energy on the ground, maybe because she is a fast bowler," voiced Mithali.

Through sheer dedication, the 39-year-old Jhulan became the One-day Internationals' (ODIs) leading wicket-taker. Though swing was not her biggest harpoon, precision and seam got her wickets aplenty. Her competitive nature was highly evident even in the nets, identified Mithali. "In the nets, I would often ask her, 'why are you spitting fire? You are my teammate only na!'. Then, she would say, 'to get out is the toughest'. She always had a competitive streak, including domestic cricket, where we played against each other often. I enjoyed that rivalry as well."


A fast bowler is foreseen to have a formidable veneer, but Jhulan was also mild. Mithali reflected a domestic game that revealed Jhulan's softer side. "We were playing in the semifinals [Railways versus Bengal]. I did not carry my helmet during that domestic season. Jhulan was aiming right at my head, and I left many of her bouncers."

"After a while, she came up to me and said, 'why are you not wearing a helmet? I was like, 'I did not carry a helmet. How will I wear one?' Those were the fun times," added Mithali. The former India skipper articulated that even the opposition players would give her due affection, especially when she was at her peak.

"What stood out was her accuracy. She was not much of a swing bowler. She was a bowler who would get the ball in and out. The cutters were her strength. She would hardly give loose balls at her peak," considered Mithali. After pacers Rumeli Dhar and Amita Sharma retired, Jhulan was the enduring pace attack for India, even as the team depended heavily on the spin.


"She was a lone ranger from one end for a long time. She would get support at times, but often, she would be the only one trying to put pressure. That holds even in recent times," Mithali assessed. Both Mithali and Jhulan began at a time when women's cricket was largely neglected before eventually coming under BCCI's umbrella in 2006.

"We had a lot of fun probably early in our careers though she was more at the receiving end of my pranks. As we got older and matured, we saw many of our teammates leave the game, and both of us were left among a bunch of new faces," revealed Mithali.

"Having her [Jhulan] in the team helped because she was also that person who would speak to everybody and communicate. Whenever I needed an opinion, she would always give one," Mithali continued. Mithali also fondly reflected on their partnerships in the middle. "I enjoyed batting with her, and I always thought she could contribute much more with the bat," he said.

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"There were good partnerships, amazing wins, and bad losses. We have seen it all through. It is a sad moment [that she is retiring], but also a moment to celebrate someone who played for such a long time. It is not easy to have a career like that as a fast bowler," Mihtali assumed.

Talking about Jhulan's off-field interests, Mithali came up with some exciting divulgences. "She enjoys reading about politics and wants to know what is happening worldwide. Her knowledge of men's cricket also stands out. I would always tell her if I was ever on the hot seat [Kaun Banega Crorepati] and a cricketing question came. She would be the first person I would call," he concluded.

(With inputs from PTI)

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