Indian captain Mithali Raj on Sunday said that it was a “tricky” call as to when India would declare their second innings and try for an outside chance of victory against Australia in the drawn ‘Day/Night’ Test which ended on Sunday.
The visitors dominated the proceedings in a game were 80 plus overs were lost in the first two days due to rain accompanied by lightning. Many expected India to declare their second innings at tea but they did come out for a few more overs setting up an improbable victory target of 272 for the hosts in a quarter of session.
“It was a little tricky as to when we could declare. Getting eight wickets in 15 overs was a bit of a stretch,” Mithali said at the post-match media conference.
Mithali termed this as the best Test match performance by India considering this was their first Day/Night Test and certainly better than their away win against England in 2014.
“Against the best sides, definitely yes. (Against) Australia this is the best game we’ve played. But in 2014, with eight debutants winning a Test in England against England, who had just won the Ashes. That was also very close.
That was pretty great. The girls really put up a great show,” she replied asked about her personal favourite.
She also hailed opener Smriti Mandhana, who hit a ton in the first innings and said “Her hundred was fabulous.”
With regard to her maiden experience of playing with the pink ball, Mithali said that she didn’t find any exaggerated movement.
“I was expecting movement but it did not happen. But in the later half there was a bit…For a first experience of a pink ball Test, I thoroughly enjoyed being on the ground,” she added.
About her playing future, Raj, who is also the ODI captain, said “Well…My goal is the World Cup. Let’s come to that once I finish playing the World Cup.”
The 50-overs World Cup is scheduled to be held in New Zealand next year.
On the history of her losing tosses, Raj said, “I didn’t want that to become a legacy. The way the girls have been pulling my leg for that! So I thought I should change. I need to learn from (MS) Dhoni on how to win a toss.”
About having more time for preparation with the pink ball ahead of the Test, she said, “It would have been nice if we had a couple of days more with the pink ball. But the response after one session, they understand how to fit into a format given the leagues and exposure they have,” the Indian captain said.
She said she was in favour of three format series and not just one-off Tests as it opened up opportunities for players to play multiple formats.
“My personal view is that three format series should become the norm. Not have just a one-off Test match in a year. It opens up opportunities for players to play multiple formats. Generally speaking, women cricketers would love to play Test cricket as well,” she added.
About Pooja Vastrakar, who impressed in the match with her bowling, picking up three wickets in the Aussie first innings and one in the second, Raj said “When I saw Pooja Vastrakar in the domestic matches, she was a good batter. We wanted someone who can bowl and give us a few overs as a seamer, going into the WC. She fitted that role.”
“It was important for us to give her confidence and game time for her to fit that role. England, she just made a comeback after two years in the ODI series. She’s done well. she has even batted well in one of the games in the one-dayers,” the skipper added.
The Indian captain also said that when they got into the England series, they had earmarked certain players for certain roles.
“When we got into the England series, we had earmarked certain players for certain roles. We made it clear to the players that they would get game time to understand their role so they know what to do properly by the World Cup. We had a good one on one talk with all the players along with Ramesh and me… that’s what we did,” she added.
Mott rues missed opportunities
Australian coach Matthew Mott rued the missed opportunities in the game but was all praise for the Indian attack.
“If we could have kept them under 270, it would have been a different match altogether. We didn’t execute as well as we should have and there were eight chances,” he said at the virtual post-match media interaction.
He further said they would have liked to have taken a chance but it would have given India a chance.
“We would’ve liked to take the game on and take a chance. But it would give India a chance and we could have lost four points. We’ve discussed changes multiple times. From 6 points to 4 and even 2. That might help teams roll the dice a bit more. It’s only human,” Mott said.
“Taking it back to 2 points so there’s less to lose and make for more entertaining cricket is probably the way to go. We want to put on a spectacle and play the game in the right spirit,” he added.
Mott said after the toss, they were behind the game and never really got back (into the game).
“The first word would be frustrating. We were looking forward to this. We knew India would be good for us. We thought we hit out mark with the toss. But we moved behind the game for the rest of the game. We never really got back in the game,” he added.
The Aussie coach hailed the Indian bowling attack and said they had set a blueprint from which to learn from.
“Nothing but praise for the Indian attack. They’ve set a blueprint that I think we have a lot to learn from. Jhulan Goswami for me is the ultimate professional world class bowler. We were quite happy when she was not bowling,” he added.