There isn’t any doubt that Australia are by far the best when it comes to winning the key moments in high pressure games – a quality that has fetched them a total of 11 World Cup titles across formats over the years. England come second on the list with five trophies while West Indies and New Zealand have one trophy each.
India could have had their name in the mix. After all, they have featured in three World Cup finals (2005, 2017 and 2020) and have crumbled in all. However, former India spinner, Neetu David, believes that India could break the jinx in the upcoming 50-over World Cup in New Zealand next year if they address the mental aspect of the game – an area which they have lagged behind for several years.
“It’s all about mental toughness and a bit of game-planning,” David, who was a member of India’s 2005 World Cup squad, told Women’s CricZone. “The only change that I would like to see in this team is mental toughness. Skill-wise, there is no doubt that we have improved a lot, but today’s girls have the same level of mental toughness as of 2005 squad. This is what I felt. I think they should work more on that.”
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The first time India played in a World Cup final was in the 2005 50-over World Cup losing to Australia by 98 runs. 12 years later, the Indians had another chance, this time against England in their backyard, but fell nine runs short of that elusive silverware. The latest of those chances came in their maiden T20 World Cup summit clash earlier this month against Australia, where they were thrashed by 85 runs.
“In our time we had Sudha Shah as the coach who had a different approach. Currently, there is WV Raman who is in his nascent years in women’s cricket and works with a different style. It is obvious that there will be many changes in thought-process. Earlier we used to go for more of a defensive approach, but girls play more attacking now,” she said.
India have always had a strong spin contingent, and David was thrilled with the way the current group of Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav and Radha Yadav performed in the recent T20 World Cup. The quartet combined to pick up 25 wickets in the tournament, foxing the opposition with their varying styles, and even outclassing Australia in the opening game of the tournament.
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“Rightly said, India is known for its spinners. The current bunch – they have their own qualities."
"Take Rajeshwari Gayakwad, the way she deceives a batter with both flight and pace at the same time is outstanding,” David explains. “For Poonam, she might be short in height, but her ability to fox the opposition with her trajectory is exceptional. With Deepti Sharma, she can bowl fast and yet get the drift. As far as Radha Yadav is concerned, she has got an incredible ability. She has got both flight and turn, which is rare,” added David who has accounted for 181 international wickets in 107 matches.
Asked to rate the four out of 10, David was ready with her mark-sheets. “Obviously Poonam will get full marks because she is the best. I will give Gayakwad eight while for Deepti and Radha seven each,” she laughed.