Need to find Jhulan Goswami a bowling-partner, says Ramesh Powar ahead of tour Down Under

Jhulan Goswami needs to have a reliable bowling partner so that she can attack, says Ramesh Powar. © BCCI

One of the focal points for India on their tour of Australia starting next month is to find a reliable bowling partner for Jhulan Goswami, the pace spearhead, ahead of the World Cup next year said head coach Ramesh Powar. Pacers Meghana Singh and Renuka Singh Thakur, who received their maiden call-ups to the national side for the tour Down Under, will be vying for a spot with the former in the squad for all formats while the latter in only the T20I one.

“Meghna is one of the seasonal players for Railways,” said Powar on Saturday (August 28), ahead of the team’s departure to Australia on Sunday.

“She stands out because she comes with experience. She’s got a skillset where we can back her in Australia.”

“We have to have support to Jhulan Goswami. If she is consistent over a period of time, we need to find a partner who can bowl in partnership so that we can get the desired results. Whatever we have, Meghna or Pooja (Vastrakar), we are not just focusing on Meghna, there is Pooja who is an allrounder and we are looking forward to her skillset.”

Goswami, Singh, Thakur, Vastrakar, Shikha Pandey, Arundhati Reddy are the seamers in the 22-member contingent, after Powar spoke in July about having a pool of pacers. While Goswami is in just the longer formats while Reddy and Thakur are part of only the shortest format.

“Everyone selected in this team has the skillset to do it, I don’t want to get into why she is in and someone is not,” said Powar.

“Once selectors and team management decide this is the 15, we go with it because we want to stay on the same page. In the fast bowling department, we are looking for consistency so that Jhulan can express herself. Because of lack of partnership, she is defensive which we don’t want as team. And we are giving her that support.”

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Yastika Bhatia, the wicketkeeper-batter from Baroda, also has been selected after first being called up for the home series against South Africa earlier in the year. She replaces Indrani Roy, who dons the gloves for Jharkhand, from the England squad. Powar is pleased with the competition for the wicket-keepers’ slot.

“As far as Indrani is concerned, there’s lot of competition, which is good for Indian cricket. There are three to four keepers competing for two spots. We are happy that we have four keepers who are fighting for the one place,” he said.

“As team management and selectors, we have faith in the 35 players who are part of the scheme of things. Everyone knows where they stand and everyone knows where they have to improve. We can only carry 25 on a tour and we’ve tried to get the best 22 to Australia.”

The multi-format tour comprises three ODIs, the first of which starts on September 19, followed by the pink-ball Test and three T20Is. India are also set to play a 50-over warm-up game on September 15. While they are fresh off a multi-format series against England, it will be the first time India will be playing a day-night Test. Does the lack of a pink-ball warm-up clash bother them?

“Looking at the current situation, we’re happy to go to Australia and keep playing cricket,” said Powar. “We don’t go by just practice games. We’ve played enough in Bengaluru camp we can say we are prepared and we can play any format.”

“The experience will be different because we have never played with the pink ball under lights before,” said Mithali Raj, captain of the Test and ODI unit.

“I’m sure the girls are following the men’s Test in England, where the momentum changes in the longer format. We will definitely carry the confidence of playing in the longer format (in England).”

Although a lot of focus is on the pink-ball Test, Powar said that it is about prioritising ODIs, with the World Cup in the horizon.

“I think we need to understand we are going to play ODIs first. World Cup is very important tournament for us and we’re focussing on that,” said the 43 year old.

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“If you see only a one-off Test, we can’t go in with a mindset of preparing for that. I think it is about taking the one day confidence into Test. The last series, the way we came back, without our stars getting their rhythm, I’m confident that we don’t have to prepare separately for the pink-ball Test.”

“It going to be big, because most of the questions are revolving around the pink-ball, instead of one-day or T20 cricket,” added Raj.

“It’s going to be big because the men are playing the Test, and the atmosphere in the cricketing circle is about the longer format. So when the girls are playing the Test, everyone will be keen to follow it and see how the girls play the longer-format and what the result would be. It’s good to know that women’s cricket is being followed so much around the world.”

While India’s tour of England ended in July, Australia last played in April, when they had toured New Zealand for a limited overs international series. While Raj was mindful of this, she said that the tourists will have to be on top of their game against the hosts.

“I want the team to go in with a lot of confidence and not think about the grey areas in the team,” said Raj. “We know that we are playing against the best side against the world. Clearly we need to get our A game every match we play.”

“We’ve pretty much done our preparations and are looking forward to playing our best,” she concluded.