Former India skipper Anjum Chopra has seen women’s cricket grow leaps and bounds from close quarters. A stylish left-handed batter, she represented India in 157 matches (12 Tests, 127 ODIs and 18 T20Is), 41 of those as captain. In this interview, she spoke about India’s disappointing performances against Bangladesh – they won the T20I series 2-1 and drew the ODIs 1-1 after the final game in Mirpur was tied on Saturday. Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur‘s behaviour was in focus in the 3rd ODI after she broke the stumps on being given out and slammed the umpires in the post-match presentation. It is likely to attract ICC sanction. Chopra addressed Kaur’s conduct as well as the team’s road ahead to the Hangzhou Asian Games.
Should Harmanpreet have been more careful with her actions and words?
When the aggression goes away and she becomes calm I’m sure she would look back and agree that she needed to be more careful in showing her disagreement. There’s no harm in voicing your displeasure, but it’s how and when you do it. She should have been more selective with her choice of words too.
The Indian team had a lot of concerns about the umpiring
There was no snickometer or ball-tracking, so it’s a bit difficult to judge. But if they (the Indian team) felt a few decisions did not go their way, could things have been handled better? Why did it come down to the Indian captain going to the post-match presentation and voicing her displeasure? It could have been communicated in a better way. How did the situation scale up to this? The Indian team not playing up to the mark can be a cause of their disappointment but that could have been kept within the dressing room. Going out in public like this (was not proper).
Could DRS have made a difference?
Whether to use DRS or not depends on the production. You need a different set of cameras, technicians and a lot of other things. The YouTube streaming that went on air was a much scaled-down version of technology, so you probably couldn’t have used DRS there even if you wanted to.
India’s performance in Bangladesh was patchy, to say the least.
It’s not a pleasing sight. When you watch India-Bangladesh in the morning and then the women’s Ashes in the evening, you could see the stark difference. One of the basic reasons is the pitch. The moment the pitch is true you can expect good scores and an even contest between bat and all. It is a very important difference, though I’m not trying to say that is the reason.
But wasn’t such pitches expected in Bangladesh?
Yes, you expect pitches like these in Bangladesh this time of the year. It’s the rainy season. So you know you will get slow, dry surfaces assisting spinners. But the Indian team wasn’t prepared enough. In fact, Harman also agreed after the 2nd ODI that they were not prepared enough and did not adapt to the conditions.
Has too many changes in support staff played a part?
You always want to have a settled coach like you want to have a settled team… But there is another side to it. If I’m a batter, my job is to score runs, it should not be my concern who is telling me to do that. What is in my control is my own performance, my own preparation.
You spoke about Ashes versus India-Bangladesh. How to bridge the gap?
The first thing we’ve got to figure out is a roadmap. We are committing the same mistakes. This is not the first time we have choked in a chase. But what are we learning from them? We were struggling to find a pace-bowling partner for Jhulan Goswami and now we are struggling at both ends. In this series, Amanjot Kaur and Pooja Vastrakar, who started with the new ball are at best your third and fourth change seamers. So, before thinking about bridging the gap with Australia and England, we have to make sure we have the arsenal. If we do, are we utilising them? There are many loose ends.
Has inconsistency in selection played a part? Shikha Pandey is again dropped. Pooja was picked as a reserve for Asian Games when she was in the squad in Bangladesh.
Let’s take Shikha’s example. Why did you go back to her in the first place for the World Cup? Anjali Sarvani did pretty well in her first outing at home, you reduced her to a net bowler in South Africa. Amanjot made her debut in South Africa before the World Cup but was dropped after a couple of matches. Pooja is now in your reserves for the Asian Games. So, there is a pattern. You can’t think of having a different result if you don’t break your pattern.
How can we turn it around in the Asian Games?
We will have the same Bangladesh team. We will have Pakistan and Sri Lanka so we will be favourites, but we need to address the evident loopholes. The conditions won’t be much different in China. You can expect slow and low tracks. It will come down to how we handle pressure and adapt.