India’s shattering loss to Sri Lanka in their final group game in the Women’s World Cup was rather incomprehensible. They came into the game having beaten West Indies convincingly before going down to England. Even in the loss against the English women, there were a couple of good performances from the hosts -- Harmanpreet Kaur’s batting and her partnership with Karun Jain. On Tuesday against the Lankans though things fell completely apart. They were off-colour with the ball and downright shambolic with the bat. At the start of the game, Mithali Raj had mentioned that they wouldn’t be taking the Lankans lightly at all. One just wonders whether they took the opponents too seriously, and in the process put a lot of pressure on themselves.
Two things perhaps got to India – the fact that they had never lost to Sri Lanka, before and thus were expected to win, and secondly the pressure of playing at home, which means it was a near compulsion for them to quality. At the start of the series, no one would have bet on the Lankans beating the mighty English women. That they did, heroically, put additional pressure on India, and the loss to England did not make their job any easier. Still, they had their fortunes in their own hands when they took on Sri Lanka in the final group game. The players knew what they had to do. The harsh truth is that they just weren’t good enough
India got too many things wrong in the do-or-die clash against Lanka and, in the process allowed West Indies to sneak through to the Super Six stage. Firstly, while bowling they were all over the place. Jhulan Goswami began well for India, but like in the match against England, she went for a few too many against the Lankans as well. Being the most experienced Indian bowler, Goswami needed to be at her best. She wasn’t bad, but her effort wasn’t good enough as compared to those in previous mega events, which hurt India. The other bowlers did not have the talent to tie the Lankan batting, which flourished against a toothless-looking attack.
The scene was even more shocking in the batting department. A decent batting performance would have seen them through to the next stage. The problem was they just weren’t in the right frame of mind, and Sri Lanka were too inspired a side on the day to let India get away. A lot was expected of leader Mithali Raj, but she had a rare poor series. Raj looked good with the bat briefly, but it needed to last longer to aid India. The rest just succumbed to the pressure. The run out of Reema Malhotra, who played a fighting knock, stranded in the middle of the wicket with her partner, epitomised India’s woes.
Three games aren’t good enough to judge a side, but it was enough to knock India out of the World Cup. After all the preparation and the hype, the tournament has turned out to be an anti-climax for India. The Indian eves would be gutted for sure, but it cannot be denied that the three other teams played better cricket in the group and deserved to go through. India did not lose for lack of effort; the massive occasion and plethora of expectations possibly got to them.
--By A Cricket Analyst