Former captain Anjum Chopra believes India has never been among the contenders for the title at the just-concluded Women’s World Cup, and in the future wants the team to “emerge from the legacy of poor decision-making” and turn the corner.
India’s stunning performance at the ICC showroom in New Zealand ended in a heartbreaking defeat by South Africa in the group stage.
“It’s time for women’s cricket to learn from the legacy of bad decision making and be honest about what they want to do and how they want to work in the future. Otherwise we will stay close to the team, we will never get there,” Chopra told PTI in an exclusive interview.
Expectations were high after finishing second at the previous World Cup five years ago, but Chopra, who watched the action from the sidelines as a commentator, believes the team led by Mithali Raj never wanted to win a trophy before the mega event.
India was the only national team to win a bilateral series against New Zealand hosts ahead of the World Cup, but they still could not fully get used to the conditions and zeros in the agreed combination.
“I will not say that India played badly. They played a few ordinary games in which they could have done better.
“I would say that the kind of preparation and the kind of skill the players showed before the World Cup (against NZ) to enter the World Cup, it was surprising to see the approach against Pakistan, the way they hit (even though they won).
“It was a surprising decision (bowling decision) against New Zealand. To come to a certain country in advance, pay six games and if you are still not familiar with the conditions, it would be unfair to say that India played badly, I would say they were not in the competition “Chopra said.
India failed to beat any of the SENA teams including England, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, ending only in victories against Pakistan, the West Indies and the debutant Bangladesh.
Seeing how the Indian campaign is going the way it is going, Chopra was left disappointed after the team failed to even make it to the semi-finals.
“It’s not just the players who need to take responsibility, everyone, including the support staff, needs to take responsibility. It’s not about crucifying one person. You’re always going to have bad days, but India just hasn’t been consistent enough.
“As a player and host, from 1997 to 2022, I saw every final and every semi-final. I never thought we could win the Cup, but I expected him to enter the semi-finals,” said the left-handed striker.
“It’s a pretty unbalanced situation with a men’s team consistently performing in all formats, but women aren’t even able to get to the last four,” she said.
Chopra believes India will stay “close” to the side if it does not focus on basics such as playing in the field and running between the gates. He believes the players are not “incompetent” but are not “fit enough” compared to Australia and England.
“This (running between wickets) has been a problem for a long time. Either things have moved or they haven’t started fast enough. If the bar is raised, progress must happen.
“It’s a good sign that the team has started scoring 270 regularly, it has progressed there in the last 15 months without cricket the year before. If it can make that much progress in that area, it can certainly improve in other areas.” So, what is the way forward for this team? “Once we understand the present, we can decide the way forward. When you have a shaky present, you can’t have a bright future.
“Cricket has improved overall. 300 has become an average score. The women’s game has progressed and we need to improve over time.”
‘Harmanpreet should be a captain in all formats’
Although Mithali has not yet announced her retirement, she will certainly not be there when the next World Cup takes place. A change of guard must happen now, and Chopra says it is no better than the helmsman of the T20 Harmanpreet Kaur to lead India in all formats.
The name Smriti Mandhane is also in the circle, and she is also eight years younger than Harmanpreet, who is 33 years old.
“Harman has been an identified leader for a long time. She has led the T20 side for a long time. How can you reject an identified leader and get a brand new person for the job?” Who was the best tournament player for India? It was Harman. You cannot assign a captaincy to hope. You didn’t make Virat Kohli captain of hope, you didn’t give Rohit captain of hope “, she had a ready counter.
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Published: Monday, April 4, 2022, 4:50 PM IST