Jhulan Goswami, a name synonymous with ‘fast bowling’ in women’s cricket, will walk into her cricket sunset at the Lord’s on Saturday and the Indian team will strive to make it a memorable swan song for her by cleaning up a historic ODI series make on English soil, in London. Playing one match at Lord’s is an ultimate cricketer’s dream. Scoring a hundred or taking a five-for is another highlight, but biding farewell to the game after an illustrious career in the ‘mecca of cricket’ is the preserve of the very few.
Sunil Gavaskar (although he played his last first-class match there) didn’t get that chance. Nor did a Sachin Tendulkar or a Brian Lara or a Glenn McGrath get the chance to step down the steps of the sacred Long Room on their last day of play.
Even Mithali Raj, a colleague of Goswami’s, who has been working for nearly 20 years, could not withdraw from a cricket pitch.
But call it fate or design, Goswami’s last hurrah takes place at Lord’s.
There could not have been a more iconic setting as the powerful 5 foot 11 inch lady walks her way through that long room where the MCC’s ‘suits’ will rise and give her a ‘Guard of Honor’ and they ground them. will enter with her teammates.
Already won by an unassailable 2-0 lead, Harmanpreet Kaur and her team would leave no stone unturned in making it a fitting farewell to one of Indian cricket’s ‘poster girls’.
After losing the T20I series, India performed extremely well against an exhausted England side in the two matches in which they dominated, both in pursuit and goal setting.
If the biggest gain is skipper Harmanpreet getting her touch and free flowing self back with innings of 74 not out and 143 not out, the concern was Shafali Verma’s patchy form throughout the tour.
Harleen Deol has done well to establish herself as a reliable midfield batter, but with Goswami’s retirement, the seam attack consisting of Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur and Pooja Vastrakar should yield a lot more.
As for England, the absence of skipper Heather Knight (due to injury) and star all-rounder Nat Sciver (mental health break) had a huge impact on the team’s balance sheet.
Goswami — Impact then and now
The last time Indian women won an ODI series in England was in 1999, when Goswami had not yet made her international debut.
So when she shows up for her 204th and final match, the Indian team’s revered “Jhulu Di” would know she’s a contented soul.
Maybe an ICC silverware (she had two shots at that in 2005 and 2017 when India played final) would have looked nice, but sometimes some things aren’t meant to be.
When she makes her bowling mark for the last time and walks up the Lord’s ramp to add his 353 international wickets (in various sizes), she may remember many things.
From a small town of Chakdah in remote West Bengal to winning ‘ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year’ and wearing the Indian Pace Attack for 20 years, you can only take your hat off to her.
It was not an easy journey to catch the first local train to Kolkata and start routines at Shradhhananda Park in North Kolkata (a small nondescript area).
Even after her India debut, if she was going back home from Chakdah station, she would be in an open van rickshaw.
When she first played for India, Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh weren’t even born and Jemimah Rodrigues might have been in her diapers.
Harmanpreet was still a Moga girl with dreamy eyes who wanted to play cricket.
When she retires, Harmanpreet will be her captain and Shafali, Jemimah, Richa and Yastika Bhatia will be her teammates.
And yes, the women’s IPL is about to start, female cricketers have central contracts and most of them drive Mercedes, BMWs and Audis, with the kind of money that has come in.
She has bridged the gap between the difficulties of traveling in second-class compartments, living in dormitories and youth hostels with communal toilets, to traveling in business class and staying in chic five-star hotels with good central contracts and financial security.
In between, a lot of water has flowed through both Hooghly and Thames as she set out on her undaunted journey.
The delivery to Meg Lanning in the semi-finals of the 2017 World Cup will be just that bit of cricket action you could want.
As India is aiming for a 3-0 clean sweep after a few dominant shows, one can be sure that her intensity will not wane.
There will be no more Jhulan Goswami.
india: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Sabbineni Meghana, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Sneh Rana, Renuka Thakur, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Harleen Deol, Dayalan Hemalatha, Simran Dil Bahadur, Taniyaa Bhatia and Jemima Rodrigues.
England: Amy Jones (c and wk), Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Alice Davidson-Richards, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Eclestone, Freya Kemp, Issy Wong and Danni Wyatt.
The match starts at 3:30 PM IST.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)