All I wanted to do was take one wicket for India: Jhulan Goswami

It has been a career spanning two decades and he has achieved every milestone that has to scale. From being the ball girl in the 1997 Women’s World Cup final in Kolkata to taking 600 wickets in a career and leading India to many memorable victories, Jhulan Goswami has won every individual accolades it has to win. What is missing from his cabinet is the World Cup trophy. And so he is in New Zealand. to finalize it. One last time to try and do the same for my country. Jhulan Boria talks to Majumdar about her long and successful career and what this upcoming World Cup means for her. Excerpts:

How do you see the upcoming ODI World Cup?

We have all been waiting for this moment for years. We know how important the tournament is and we will give our best to it. We know how close we were in 2017. And it is not something that one can ever forget. Having said that this is another opportunity for us to do what we are here for: to win the ultimate prize for the country. We have a very nice unit. Despite the recent results, we are all geared up for the tournament. We have a good mix of youth and experience and we have a very good big tournament record.

You have said that this is your last World Cup. How do you look back on all this?

When I started my career, I never thought I would play for 20 years. I didn’t think I would take more than 600 (career) wickets for India or win matches. I never dreamed that I would play in two World Cup finals (2017 ODI World Cup and 2020 T20 World Cup). All I wanted to do was take a wicket for India, get the India jersey for myself so that I can always say that I have represented my country. For a girl who used to play sports after her brothers finished, it is impossible to think of all these achievements. Whatever I’ve done, that’s the hardest thing I could do and do what I could. The rest have fallen in place.

India has played good cricket in the last few World Cups. Finalist in 2017 ODI World Cup Finalist in 2020 T20 World Cup. Does that experience matter?

Absolutely. You know the big stage and you also know that you can do well on the big stage. In 2017, a lot of our players were relatively new. Now they are all more experienced and have won matches for India. He played well under pressure and did well. All these things help when you play in the World Cup.

His team has a good balance of experience and talent.

Yes. The openers have done well. We have two real match winners in Shafali (Verma) and Smriti (Mandhana). If one of them fires, we’re ready for a flight. Mithali is a legend. It is an honor to play 20 years with her and she would like to win that trophy for the country. Harmanpreet (Kaur) and Deepti (Sharma) have experience and we have two very good youngsters in Yastika (Bhatia) and Richa (Ghosh). Our batting is completely ready at this point of time. We have a very good balance in bowling as well. Meghna (Singh) is doing well and we have Pooja (Vastrakar). The spin department is well taken care of. We are a team that has a real shot at the title. Also, we have played with England in England and have done well. We have played against Australia in Australia and have done well. We have had the opportunity to play many matches in New Zealand conditions. That’s all. The next one month is going to be very big for Indian cricket.

Last year in Australia, you went through two very opposite extremes. In the second ODI, you bowled a no-ball on the last ball and then in the third one-day you won the match for India by hitting a four on the last ball. Tell us about the hours between that no ball and the boundary. How do you deal with such ups and downs?

We should have won that match. 274 is a very good score in women’s cricket and it should have been defended. The ball was really wet and really impossible to catch. We were not used to bowling in those conditions and that affected us. I couldn’t sleep that night. Woke up till 3:30 and was moving up and down the room. I was plagued with self-doubt and could not accept defeat. I was blaming myself for letting the team down. Somehow I fell asleep and woke up the next morning around 10:30. Within minutes of waking up, Harman and Smriti called me and said they were waiting for me in the lobby and they were taking me out for breakfast. He didn’t even give me a chance to think. I have my own routine during the pre-match days but they were insisting that I break the routine. At breakfast he said it was time to forget what had happened and I would be the one to help India win the third game. it felt good. It makes a big difference when your partner says such things to you. I was able to regroup my thoughts and started focusing on the task at hand. I had to overcome all the negativity and think about the next match. It was an opportunity and I had to make the most of it.

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