Jhulan Goswami has already played her final T20.
That came easily over a month ago. She won’t ever don the India jersey for a T20 contest any further, in an admission made to the media nearly a week ago.
Depending on who you are- an avid cricket fan or a die-hard India supporter- Jhulan Goswami’s T20 retirement leaves the international game in a limbo. And yet, at the same time, it entrusts the task of carrying the baton of India’s fast-bowling hopes over to a younger generation, armed with respect for the game, useful talent and some measured achievements.
Over a month ago, during India’s nail-biting final encounter against a victorious Bangladesh, in an Asia Cup thriller, the lanky pacer went wicketless from her share of 2 overs.
Some said it was strange. Others were merely confused.
Seeing Jhulan Goswami concede 20 at an economy of 10 an over is about as common as seeing an individual walking minus an umbrella during peak rainfall.
It hardly ever happens. Well, unless one’s gone bonkers.
But despite having played that familiar brand of committed cricket, at the highest level for nearly a decade and a half, Jhulan Goswami has been anything but that.
Although, one cannot quite say that for the likes of Meg Lanning, Charlotte Edwards, Ellyse Perry, Chloe Tryon, Sana Mir and many others who’ve been left huffing and puffing with the pacer’s penchant for extracting mega bounce and nagging consistency.
Jhulan Goswami’s T20 exit means a giant’s bowed out
On the contrary, for someone who’s had the distinct, albeit remarkable, honour of landing herself on the national postage stamp- Jhulan Goswami’s conduct has been exemplary.
Simply put, a stalwart of the game.
There’s honestly nothing else that can be said for a fast-bowling tearaway who broke international headlines when she went past the legend Fitzpatrick in most ODI dismissals by a woman cricketer (in 2017).
Cricket loves characters. But it regards those, who play the game with sincerity and integrity.
You know where to place Jhulan Goswami by now.
So there’ll definitely be no grudges against a stalwart of the game who succeeded in even the batting-favouring, less bowler-friendly format by scalping 56 T20 wickets from 68 games.
Are India well-placed minus Jhulan in T20s?
But still, Jhulan Goswami’s exit leaves India with things to ponder over.
While the familiar sight of a passionate and buzzing Shikha Pandey foreheaded in that bandana evokes an honest regard about this fighting cricketer, there’s something the others will have to think about.
Fundamentally, India’s bowling, if one keeps the probing bounce and nagging accuracy of Goswami away has often been about spin.
India’s spin possesses the bite
While in no way does it mean that India’s medium pace bowling lacks bite or talent, it cannot be denied that the likes of Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Anuja Patil, Poonam Yadav, Deepti Sharma have been the go-to foxes to bewilder batters in limited formats.
We saw the way Rajeshwari Gayakwad outfoxed Bangladesh and the rising Asian nations in the Asia cup recently and we saw her bring out some of her best figures against England earlier in the year, on way to her 2-32 at Nagpur. Even at South Africa, it was Gayakwad, who through her 3-26 turned the tables on the Proteas women.
The same can be said for Anuja Patil who was exemplary throughout the Asia Cup bowling miserly.
Deepti Sharma, on the other hand, was consistent with that tight line and length, not allowing batswomen to free their arms and brought her A-game to the table when she created a furore against England.
So while the spin cauldron looks fine and dandy, one expects the duo of a returning Mansi Joshi- who’d been away for one full year following injury- and the inexperienced Pooja Vastrakar to consolidate the medium-pace bowling department.
That said, spare a thought for Mansi Joshi
It can be heart-crushing for any youngster, regardless of a bowler or a batting talent to play a solitary international only to be sidelined by a menacing injury.
It, in some ways also highlights a huge opportunity for this right-arm medium fast bowler to up her game and prove the frustration from watching cricket from behind the ropes hasn’t trumped the eagerness to deliver.
What can be a better opportunity to contribute other than the 3 ODIs and 5 T20s that India have in store versus Sri Lanka.
A mighty performance from an in-form Pooja Vastrakar (right-arm medium) with 12 T20 wickets in Sri Lanka would also up the confidence of Mansi, who’ll be keen to deliver.
What lies ahead for India’s fast bowlers?
What’s more? Under the ebullience and determination of Shikha Pandey, 19 T20 wickets from 32 games, the two will be able to form a trio. But whether the troika can deliver as a whole, we will have to wait and watch.
What is going to be fascinating, nonetheless would be to see the Indian fast-bowling department stay true to the moniker attributed to quickies; fast-bowlers love to hunt in pairs.
So even as Jhulan Goswami’s T20 exit leaves open the room for other talents to lift their game, nothing can be as enterprising than to note the arrival of another medium-pace exponent for the impending series- Arundhati Reddy.
That said, India could surely be expected to approach the Sri Lankan series as a fighting (and befitting) precursor to the mega-challenge that awaits all women’s teams: the mighty ICC Women’s World T20.