Jhulan Goswami, Team India's senior-most player and head of the pace attack, on Tuesday, urged Indian fans to keep faith in the team, and said the team will bounce back after the poor outing in the first ODI against England.
The veteran bowler further said Harmanpreet Kaur just needs one good innings to get rid of her poor form and turn things around.
Speaking to the media ahead of the second ODI to be played in Taunton on Wednesday, Goswami defended her teammates, both the batting and bowling units, who came under the scanner during the previous match after they failed to make any impact.
After the openers Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana, both strokeplayers, got out early on, the batting trio of captain Mithali Raj, Poonam Raut and Harmanpreet Kaur failed to give momentum to the innings, though Raj was the highest scorer with 72 in 108 balls. However, it was the 180 dot balls in India's innings—unacceptable in present times—that raised eyebrows. While Raut scored 32 in a bid to up the pace of runs, Kaur fell for 1.
Defending the trio, Goswami said, "At 3, 4 and 5 we have Raut who has a lot of experience, then Mithali who has consistently scored even in last match. Harmanpreet, I feel just needs one good knock out there to turn things around.. She will be back. We need one good match from our middle order I feel."
In fact, former India captain Diana Edulji, disappointed with the manner in which the middle order batted, even went to the extent of saying that seniors need to step up, and if they can't then youngsters should be given the opportunities ahead of the next World Cup.
Kaur has been particularly in the spotlight for her string of low scores. Post her electric performances in the 2019 ICC Women's World Cup in England, Kaur has had a slew of below par outings in ODIs. In the last three years, she has played 18 ODIs, scoring 337 runs, with a highest score of 54—her lone half century between 2018-2021. Asked whether batting at number 5 is a problem for Kaur and if she should look to return to the number 4 slot, Goswami said, "We are doing these kind of things to try and see which combination is working best for us (for the World Cup). The team management will take a call before the WC on these things."
Skipper Mithali Raj had come down hard on all departments after the first match, saying everyone needs to pull up their socks.
Goswami defended the pace bowling unit which also came a cropper in the first ODI ."Honestly speaking, we have to come back strongly as a team. Yes, as a bowling unit we must perform with more responsibility. I am not making excuses or blaming COVID-19, but Shikha Pandey has come back after a long lay off, as has Pooja Vastarkar. No doubt pressure is there, it is all about how you handle it. The bowlers need a little bit of time, we have good quality bowlers in our team."