Purely up to Mithali, Jhulan to choose when to hang their boots: Mamatha Maben

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Former India skipper Mamatha Maben believes that it should be left to Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami when they want to retire from all forms of cricket.

After India’s campaign in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup ended in a heartbreaking loss to South Africa at Hagley Oval, both Raj and Goswami chose to remain hesitant over the future of their illustrious playing careers.

“It’s purely left up to them to choose when they hang up their boots. But, definitely, I feel this is the last World Cup (for them). About (the) future, we don’t know what’s on their minds and on the minds of the administration. We should leave it to them to decide what they need to do and how they do it,” said Maben in an interview with IANS.

Maben, who saw only the last two balls of the thrilling match due to her busy schedule, refused to pinpoint Deepti Sharma’s no-ball in the final over as the main reason for the three-wicket loss.

“At the end of the day, we can’t pinpoint that one particular incident (Deepti no-ball). There were a lot of incidents preceding that where we let the match go so close. We could have handled things much better, especially in last 8-10 overs (with the ball) where the match was in our grip. From there, we let it lose a little.

“There was a phase (with ball) where I won’t say we were in total control but we had an upper hand. From there, we let things slip and it became very tight. You never know, that last ball could have gone for two. But I thought when Harry (Harmanpreet) took the catch, 90 per cent it was in our favour and then the no-ball.

“What I am saying is that no-ball just happened; you can’t point out. There were many other things that we could have done better.”

Pace all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar was the most impressive youngster for Maben from India’s campaign in the World Cup. Vastrakar made 167 runs with the bat while picking 10 wickets with the ball and shared a crucial 122-run stand for the seventh wicket with Sneh Rana to rescue India from 114/6 to a match-winning score of 244/7 against Pakistan.

Maben, who witnessed Vastrakar closely in the Challenger Trophy as well as the Women’s T20 Challenge, remarked, “I am so happy that she has blossomed in this World Cup and I know she can get better from here if she handles herself better and the management handles her well. She is one person who’s impressed me a lot.”

At the same time, Maben felt wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh has tons of promise for future, and that pacer Meghna Singh will need more grooming to be a quality fast bowler.

“Shafali is a known commodity in terms of what she can and cannot do. Unfortunately, Richa didn’t fire with the bat but she was outstanding and simply brilliant in the New Zealand series. The pressures of World Cup and bilateral series are different. But there’s a lot of scope and promise in Richa.

“Meghna is there too but it takes a lot of seasoning for a bowler, that seasoning process may take one or two years for her. She’s definitely something with quality and will have to fill in the big, big boots of Jhulan eventually. If one I had to pick, it will be Pooja due to the consistency she was contributing.”

In the World Cup, India briefly topped the charts for catching efficiency. But Maben is of the opinion that India have to improve on their fielding as well as running between the wickets to be an effective ODI side.

“India did field well; due credit to them for taking a lot of catches. But if there is one thing in which India can get very efficient or really good at, that is running between wickets as well as fielding. You watch every game and see that our fielding and running between wickets has cost us 10-15 runs and that eventually is the margin by which we are losing most of the times. There are people good at it like Pooja, Harry, Sneh Rana who run very well. But you don’t get that combination always right.

“Like, the other day, that run-out between Shafali and Smriti (against South Africa) was so unfortunate. We can improve batting and bowling. With the bat, we are there in terms of our quality and in bowling, we might have a void in terms of medium pace department. But (improvements in) fielding and running between the wickets, from our playing days too, has been the case.”

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