ICC Women's World Cup 2022: Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami in focus ahead of clash with South Africa

In the build up to the World Cup, all the focus had been on the veterans Mithali and Jhulan Goswami as this tournament, in all likelihood, could be their last global event.

Published: 27th March 2022 08:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th March 2022 08:03 AM   |  A+A-

Mithali Raj (left) and Jhulan Goswami

Mithali Raj (left) and Jhulan Goswami

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Indian women's cricket team are yet to win a World Cup. They have reached the final twice (2005 and 2017) but the Cup has eluded them. But since the semifinal format was introduced in 1997, they have consistently made the last four stage save for the home World Cup in 2013. On Saturday, Mithali Raj & Co. can do exactly that, if they beat South Africa. 

In the build up to the World Cup, all the focus had been on the veterans Mithali and Jhulan Goswami as this tournament, in all likelihood, could be their last global event. The two stalwarts have been top performers for India in the previous editions and Mithali was the captain in 2005 and 2017. But, this World Cup has been different. 

Although Goswami broke a couple of records along the way, the duo have had a rather poor run so far. The youngsters - Yastika Bhatia, Pooja Vastrakar, Sneh Rana - have made their mark in the tournament already. They have assumed centrestage. Mithali has scored 114 runs at 19 and Jhulan has only seven wickets to show. And if things don't go their way on Sunday, it could well be the end of their journey. An unfulfilled dream.

However, if history is anything to go by, it is hard to write them off yet. India as a team have come out and performed when their backs are against the wall in a World Cup. Take 2017. In a virtual quarterfinal, Mithali scored a match-winning century and Rajeshwari Gayakwad took a fifer in her first match of the tournament. It's been the case in the previous editions as well. They are yet to lose in their last league game since 1982.

But it is not going to be easy. They are up against a team that has been second-best so far in this World Cup without even playing to their full potential. The Proteas are also among the four teams they played against in the last twelve months. But the fact that they have lost against the other three (New Zeland, Australia and England) at this World Cup doesn't augur well for them.

They would want everyone at their best to pull this off. From the openers taking on the best pace attack in the world to the spinners tying down the dangerous Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt. But, once again, it might all come down to the experienced duo.

Mithali has to step up and perform with the bat and Goswami should deliver with the new ball. It's nothing new. It's a job they have done day in and day out for the better part of the last two decades. Can they do it again when it matters the most? 

(Live on Star Sports from 6.30 am)


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