Jhulan Goswami, a name synonymous with ‘fast bowling’ in women’s cricket, will head into her cricket sunset at Lord’s on Saturday and the Indian team will look to make it a memorable swan song for them by giving it completes a clean win of the historic ODI series on English soil, in London. (More cricket news)
Game and TV details
date: September 24 (Saturday); time: 3:30 p.m. IST; Venue: Lord’s, London, England; TV channel: Sony Sports Network; live streaming: SonyLiv.
Playing a single game at Lord’s is the ultimate dream for a cricketer.
Scoring a hundred points or winning a five is another high, but saying goodbye to the game after an illustrious career in the ‘Mecca of cricket’ is reserved for a select few.
Sunil Gavaskar (although he played his last top-flight game there) didn’t get that opportunity. Neither Sachin Tendulkar, nor Brian Lara, nor Glenn McGrath got a chance to walk down the stairs of the hallowed Long Room on their final day of play.
Even Goswami’s colleague Mithali Raj, for almost 20 years, couldn’t retire from a cricket pitch.
But call it fate or plan, Goswami’s last hurrah is at Lord’s.
There could not have been a more iconic setting as the strapping 5ft 11in lady makes her way down this long room where the MCC’s ‘suits’ will stand up and her teammates will give her an ‘honor guard’ as she steps onto the floor.
A series already won by an unassailable 2-0 lead, Harmanpreet Kaur and her team would leave no stone unturned to make it a fitting farewell to one of Indian cricket’s ‘posters’.
After losing the T20I series, India performed very well against an exhausted English side in the two games in which they dominated in both pursuit and goal setting.
If the biggest win is skipper Harmanpreet coming back with innings of 74 on and 143 on her touch and free-flowing self, Shafali Verma’s patchy form has been the concern throughout the tour.
Harleen Deol has done well to establish herself as a reliable mid-tier batter, but with Goswami’s retirement, the close attack consisting of Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur and Pooja Vastrakar would need to step up a lot more.
As for England, the absence of skipper Heather Knight (due to injury) and star all-rounder Nat Sciver (mental break) put a huge strain on the team’s balance.
Goswami – Impact then and now
The last time Indian women won an ODI series in England was in 1999, when Goswami had not yet made her international debut.
So when she turns up for her 204th and final game, the Indian team’s revered “Jhulu Di” would know she’s a contented soul.
Maybe an ICC silverware would have looked good (she had two tries in 2005 and 2017 when India played the final) but sometimes some things aren’t meant to be.
As she makes her bowling mark one last time and strides up this Lord’s slope to expand his 353 international gates (across formats), she may remember many things.
From a small town of Chakdah in remote West Bengal to winning ICC Woman Cricketer of The Year and the 20-year shoulder of Indian Tempo Attack, you can only tip your hat to her.
It wasn’t an easy journey, catching the first local train to Kolkata and starting routines at Shradhhananda Park in north Kolkata (a small, nondescript compound).
Even after her India debut, when she would return home from the Chakdah station, she would be seen sitting in an open-top van rickshaw.
When she first played for India, Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh weren’t even born yet and Jemimah Rodrigues might have been in their diapers.
Harmanpreet was still a dreamy-eyed Moga girl who wanted to play cricket.
When she retires, Harmanpreet will be her captain and Shafali, Jemimah, Richa and Yastika Bhatia will be her teammates.
And yes, the women’s IPL is about to start, women cricketers have central contracts and most of them drive Mercedes, BMWs and Audis with the kind of money that’s been pouring in.
She was a bridge between the struggles of traveling in second-class compartments, living in dormitories and youth hostels with shared washrooms, to traveling business class and staying in fancy five-star hotels with proper central contracts and financial security.
In between, much water has flowed through both Hooghly and the Thames as she undeterred embarked on her journey.
Delivering to Meg Lanning in the 2017 World Cup semifinals will be such cricket action you would wish for.
With India aiming for a 3-0 win after a couple of dominant shows, you can be sure their intensity will not let up.
There will be no more 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 and wk), Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Alice Davidson-Richards, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Freya Kemp, Issy Wong and Danni Wyatt.
Game starts at 3:30pm IST.
(With PTI inputs)