4 Things Virat & Co Could Learn From The Women’s Cricket Team

While the men’s cricket team have been faltering on and off the field, the women have been consistently impressive.

Updated
Opinion
5 min read
While the men have been faltering, the India eves have been putting up impressive shows. (Photo: Harsh Sahani/<b>The Quint</b>)

While the Indian men's cricket team have been faltering in terms of performance on the field and off it, Indian women have been putting up impressive shows at the ongoing Women's World Cup in England.

Led by the strong, talented and vocal Mithali Raj, the Indian women's team is at the top of the tables after three games at the World Cup. Meanwhile, Virat Kohli and co have been making headlines with their rift against Anil Kumble and lacklustre displays against a paltry West Indian team.

Proceedings reached a peak when India failed to chase down a target of 190 set by the West Indies. The success of the women’s team is further underlined by how they defended 169 against Pakistan in the third match of their World Cup campaign.

The loss to Pakistan in the Champions Trophy followed by the Kumble fiasco angered a number of cricket fans, but Mithali Raj and her team have done plenty to soothe the wounds since they arrived in England.

With just 169 on the board against Pakistan, the women's team seemed to be heading to an embarrassing defeat but some inspired captaincy and sharp bowling saw them triumph over their arch-rivals.

Here’s a list of few things that the women's team has been doing right (while the men’s side has been messing up) in recent times.

1. Captain’s Demeanour in Press Conferences

"Do you ask the same question to a male cricketer? Do you ask them who their favourite female cricketer is?" Mithali Raj asked a reporter a few days ago when he quizzed her about her favourite male cricketer.

Virat Kohli at the press conference. (Photo: AP)
Virat Kohli at the press conference. (Photo: AP)

Flamboyant, charismatic and blunt without being rude, the Indian women's team skipper has made all the right moves in press conferences and media interactions apart from her quirky strategies on the field. She also became the first woman to compile seven half-centuries on the trot in ODIs.

Her retort became viral on Twitter with several recognised members lauding her response.

Virat Kohli, on the other hand, has suddenly realised that captaincy is not all about bowling changes and moving around fielders. The skipper's rift with Kumble has affected his popularity in the country and the onus is on him to prove that he made the right call in involving the BCCI.

However, dodging questions/diverting them in interviews may not be the right way to go. He failed to divulge the reasons for Kumble's exit citing "sanctity of the change room" is at stake.

With the ongoing controversies, there is no doubt that Kohli could take a leaf out of Mithali Raj in handling the press.

2. Sushma Verma's Lesson For The Men

Sushma Verma scored 33 off 35 against Pakistan in the Women’s World Cup.
Sushma Verma scored 33 off 35 against Pakistan in the Women’s World Cup.
(Photo: AP)

Prior to the match against Pakistan, India's women's team wicketkeeper, Sushma Verma, had batted just 8 times in 22 ODIs making a total of 13 runs at an appalling strike rate of 23.21.

The figures were thrown all over the internet and her selection was considered a huge mistake by so-called cricket analysts who barely follow the women's game. No one spoke about the fact that she had batted at no 8 in seven of those eight innings.

Come the all important game against Pakistan and Verma stepped up to show terrific temperament and composure in the face of a collapse. Her 35-ball 33 halted a certain downfall and instead took India from 111/6 to 169/9, a winning total in the end.

Kedar Jadhav (in picture) and Hardik Pandya have been throwing their wickets away in the West Indies. (Photo: AP)
Kedar Jadhav (in picture) and Hardik Pandya have been throwing their wickets away in the West Indies. (Photo: AP)

Compared to the manner in which Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya have been throwing their wickets away in the West Indies, Verma's innings was one that served the situation best.

The wicket-keeper proved that finishing is not always about the bash but about playing the match circumstances. On the slow and low West Indian wickets, the up and coming finishers of India men's team could learn from Verma's composed knock.

3. Batsmen Handling Pressure Situations

With the wickets in the Caribbean not conducive to stroke play, it was bizarre watching India try extravagant shots.

If Kohli was eager to hook when the West Indians had a clear plan against him, Jadeja, the culprit in dismissing a rampant Hardik Pandya in the Champions Trophy final, slogged mindlessly with the team requiring just run a ball in the third ODI against West Indies.

Virat Kohli during India’s ODI match against West Indies. (Photo: AP)
Virat Kohli during India’s ODI match against West Indies. (Photo: AP)

The temperament of a few Indian batsman remains a huge question mark just when the Indian women's team has been churning out gritty performances in the Women's World Cup.

Smriti Mandhana, the talented young lass, has been spectacular at the top while Mithali Raj, Sushma Verma and Punam Raut have all impressed with their composure and patience.

If they were elegance personified on a batting strip against England in the tournament opener, in Taunton, they showed immense tolerance in chasing down 184 against the West Indian women. The third match against Pakistan showed the kind of spirit in the eve's team as they grasped a win from a near improbable situation.

 The talented young lass Smriti Mandhana has been spectacular at the top. (Photo: AP)
The talented young lass Smriti Mandhana has been spectacular at the top. (Photo: AP)

4. Role of Women Spinners Compared to Ashwin-Jadeja 'No-Show'

India has won over hearts with their impressive display in the Women's World Cup but even more spectacular has been the manner in which the spinners have bowled for the eve's team.

If it was Deepti Sharma's off breaks that restricted England in the first game, Poonam Yadav and Harmanpreet Kaur rolled their arms over with success against the Windies.

India’s Ekta Bisht bowls during the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 match between India and Pakistan. (Photo: AP)
India’s Ekta Bisht bowls during the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 match between India and Pakistan. (Photo: AP)

Against Pakistan, Mithali Raj opened the attack with Ekta Bisht and the left-arm spinner had the Pakistan top order in a tangle with her drift and around the wicket angle. These performances come at a India men's team spinners, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, are enduring severe criticism for their dreary show.

While Ashwin averaged 167 in the Champions Trophy, Jadeja averaged 62.25. Deepti Sharma and Ekta Bisht, meanwhile, head the wickets table in the Women's World Cup.

Poonam Yadav and Harmanpreet Kaur also average below 30. Bisht's smart bowling against Pakistan, changing the angle of attack and getting drift back into the right handers, was a lesson in spin bowling that the men's spinners could learn from.

(Rohit Sankar is a freelance cricket writer. He can be reached at @imRohit_SN)

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