Richa on experience, Ghosh wants to make it count

She understands that failures are a part of the sport, especially when someone plays such a high-risk role as a T20 finisher as hers.
Indian woman cricketer Richa Ghosh (Photo | Twitter)
Indian woman cricketer Richa Ghosh (Photo | Twitter)

BENGALURU: Richa Ghosh has come a long way since that heartbreaking March night at Melbourne Cricket Ground two years ago. Playing just her third international match, the then 17-year-old came in at No. 8 and scored a run-a-ball 18 in the final of the 2020 T20 World Cup. The visuals of her and Shafali Verma in inconsolable tears after the defeat against Australia are etched in everyone's memories.

But she is not that nervous teenager anymore. Yes, she is still 19, but in the 30 months since, Richa has grown into one of the most audacious batting talents in world cricket.

She made her ODI debut, played in an ODI World Cup, secured a WBBL contract in 2021, dominated the Asia Cup after being left out of CWG 2022, and has grown into one of the toughest roles in the sport — she is India’s designated finisher in white-ball cricket.

But more than anything else, Richa feels her evolution is in the way she reads the game now. “I understand the game better now,” said the Bengal wicketkeeper in a select media interaction after the semifinal of Senior Women's T20 against Himachal Pradesh at the M Chinnaswamy stadium was called off midway due to rain.

“I know what the team needs in certain situations. Now, responsibility has also increased. When the team is in trouble, how to get out of it is what the focus is on,” she added.

Her performances back it up as well. Needing 11 runs from three balls to put Bengal ahead of the VJD method par score in the semifinal, Richa smashed a six with disdain to take them closer before the heavens broke and helped them progress to the final.

A month ago in Bangladesh, she was taking apart the Pakistan attack and almost single-handedly won the game for India.

Her performance in the Asia Cup made everyone wonder why she was not a part of the India squad that lost in the gold medal match against Australia in CWG 2022.

Richa did not let the time away from the Indian team affect her. She worked on her fitness, power-hitting, and wicketkeeping to come back a much-improved version of herself. She said that the team management has been clear about her role and supported her every step of the way. She understands that failures are a part of the sport, especially when someone plays such a high-risk role as a T20 finisher as hers. And this is where the backing of the leadership group has boosted her confidence.

“I always play my normal game. Where I can hit the ball, I work on those shots. Some days it works and some days it doesn't. But I won't stop playing those shots. On most days, we have to take risks, and when we do it wouldn't be 100/100 every time right? Harry di (Harmanpreet Kaur) and Smriti (Mandhana) understand me and support me well. They back me up even if I make a mistake or miss a ball. We back each other. We take it as a positive and see how to improve.”

And it is not just the team management, she had picked up the brains of every possible person she could to improve her game. She says that she has learnt a lot from the spinners, based on how they bowl and what they tell her to expect in a particular situation. “In the Pakistan match, I tried to play the cut shot early on, when Shafali came in, she told me to play to my strength, hitting down the ground, then I went for it.”

In her short international career so far, the longest Richa has batted in a T20I is for 26 deliveries. It is something she wants to address. “Yes, it is my role to go in and attack, but there is something I am working on. Especially, if there are a lot of overs left. If I go in after the 12th over, I am focusing on how to improve my game to bat through the eight overs. That was what was missing in my game and now it's also improving.”

While Richa has her eyes on the T20 World Cup in South Africa, she doesn’t want to look too far ahead. She first wants to work towards the upcoming Australia series and take it from there. “If we can build on the Asia Cup performance in that series, it will help us do better in the World Cup,” she signed off.

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The New Indian Express