Jhulan Goswami backs Mithali Raj as an opener in T20Is

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Jhulan Goswami backs Mithali Raj as an opener in T20Is

Jhulan Goswami became the first woman to take 300 International wickets. © DNA India

Jhulan Goswami credited Ramesh Powar for instilling a fearless approach within the Indian team, and believed Mithali Raj should open the batting in Twenty20 Internationals.

Mithali did not open in India’s first Group B game World Twenty20 game against New Zealand in Guyana, and it led to a lot of opinions. One school believed that promoting Taniya Bhatia as an opener in order to allow her to make use of the new, hard ball in the Power Play overs was a prudent move in order, but another set of followers thought that separating a successful opening pair of Mithali and Smriti Mandhana could disturb the overall composition.

Bhatia did not click against New Zealand, but India won comfortably by 34 runs. In the next game against Pakistan where India had to chase down 134, Mithali was back as an opener and she responded with a 47-ball 56 to be the player of the match in a seven-wicket win. Harmanpreet Kaur, the captain, explained that the logic of sending Mithali to open was to enable India to deal with the spinners – Pakistan’s strength – in the most effective way. The third game against Ireland, played at the same venue on a sluggish surface because of rain, offered difficult conditions for the batters, with the ball stopping and coming. Mithali made a sedate 56-ball 51, failing to find the boundary in the last 24 balls of her knock. But her experience held the innings together as India posted 145 for 6 on their way to a 52-run win and a place in the semifinal of World T20 for the first time since 2010. It earned Mithali her fifth player of the match award in T20Is this year. She would go on to say that she expected a better pitch for the last league game against Australia.

“Mithali should continue to open as it gives the team a lot of stability,” Goswami who led India in the 2010 World T20, also in the Windies, was as quoted saying to The Times of India on Saturday (November 18).

Jhulan Goswami retired from T20Is earlier this year just before the tour of Sri Lanka, which was Powar’s first assignment as India’s head coach. Powar, the former India offspinner, has been widely acknowledged by the players to have brought in a sense of new belief, and Goswami echoed the sentiment.

"It's always great to reach the last-four stage. The team looks confident and each one has played her part so far," she said. "There is bound to be pressure when you are playing a semifinal. If the girls hold their nerve and express themselves freely, I see no reason why they can't bring the Cup home."

"Since Ramesh took over as the coach, he has given the players the license to play their natural game. The girls are playing fearless cricket. This attitude has boosted the team,” she added. “Ramesh has also ensured that there weren’t too many changes in the playing XI right through qualifying stage. This helped the team settle down as a unit.”