March 4, 2022: Indian cricket will be going through some exciting and enthralling moments this month. The Indian women’s cricket team will be vying to win the World Cup in New Zealand, whereas, the men will be wishing to demolish Sri Lanka in the Test series at home.
The aura and halo surrounding the three special Indian cricketers will make both these cricket encounters into historical milestones.
Virat Kohli, by far the greatest Indian batsman of the present era, will be playing his 100th Test match at Mohali. He will be the 12th Indian cricketer to do so. This in itself is a landmark achievement for any cricketer playing for his country and one hopes he gets a triple century to stamp his presence forever.
Kohli in his decade of playing for his country has not been able to get a triple as yet and the present bowling attack of the Sri Lankans would be an ideal setting for him to do so. A bit of luck and plenty of good wishes would be all that Kohli should require to make it a grand affair.
On such an occasion one always tends to look back on records. We can already see a bit of mental tiredness and fatigue creeping into Virat Kohli. However, a quick look by him at the 200 Test matches played by the immortal Sachin Tendulkar should be just the incentive to get him to wake up and roll once again.
Kohli is at that stage of his life in cricket where he is now playing against himself. He has already proven his ability and greatness and the targets set by Tendulkar should be the goals to egg him on.
Cricket has always been a game for debate and discussion. The primary reason for that is the uncertainty that goes with it. Being a one-ball game, similar to a game of Russian roulette, for a batsman one never knows when the bullet in the chamber could fire. Encountering that unpredictability and making a success of it, is what one respects and makes one who’s just a Test cricketer into a great one.
Virat, sans his captaincy burden, is now a free bird from worrying about being the one responsible for the team and his players. The Sri Lankan side is on a rebuilding or redeveloping stage, full of young unknown and inexperienced players. The present Indian side should not have a problem defeating them.
The eyes will, therefore, naturally be on Virat Kohli and how he plays himself into the echelons of Indian cricket – 100 Test matches and more to come.
The World Cup is always a special occasion. With eight women’s teams in the fray playing initially against each other and thereafter, to make the last four, should be an interesting affair.
Women’s cricket has been dominated by Australia, England and New Zealand because their respective countries boards recognised them much earlier than the rest. The other teams around the world have gradually caught up with the ‘big three’ and the World Cup this year is an open race wherein nothing can be taken for granted. This should make the tournament into a very interesting and absorbing affair.
Women’s cricket requires every bit of push and encouragement for cricket to be the winner. In the early stages of the game, men and women played cricket together. It will only be a question of time when one may see this happen once again.
The Indian women’s team has a bunch of exciting batters in Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma and Harmanpreet Kaur. All of whom are brilliant stroke players. How can one forget the unbelievable Kapil Dev-type knock of 171 in the World Cup semifinals against Australia played by Harmanpreet. Her innings was one of the best ever played. However, one will zero in on the two all-time greats of Indian as well as the world’s women’s cricket – Mithali Raj, the Indian captain, and Jhulan Goswami, the legendary pacer.
Mithali will be playing her sixth World Cup and is the holder of several individual world-batting records. On the brink of her 40th birthday, one hopes that she leads her side to a World Cup victory. It would be the perfect icing on the cake, similar to when India won the Men’s World Cup in 2011 that became momentous for Tendulkar on his sixth attempt.
Mithali, with 225 ODIs under her belt, deserves the same accolades for her service to Indian cricket.
The Babul Chakda Express, as she is popularly called because of her unrelenting two decades of bowling pace for India, Jhulan Goswami is a legend in every which way. She too will be approaching the magic figure of 200 ODIs for India in the World Cup.
The Indian team will be depending on her, especially in the pace-friendly wickets of New Zealand. In order for India to win, Jhulan will need to give match-winning performances, being the spearhead of India’s attack.
Virat Kohli, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, India salutes you all and tips one’s hat to your legendary performances. All the best!
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Test cricketer. Views expressed are personal.)