Cricket

India women vs England women: Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey's 'swing-ving' combo makes hosts more than just spinners

  • Snehal Pradhan
  • February 26th, 2019
  • 12:57:17 IST

Duplicity, in it’s simpler, less sinister meaning, is often used for emphasis in our everyday Hindi speech. If you say something morbid, an elder will most likely admonish you by saying "Shubh shubh bolo". If you chat on the phone to your beloved for hours, your sibling might chide you with "Kitne guppe-shuppe marega". And if you’re planning to you go out for a south Indian meal with your buddies, you might say "Chalo dosa vosa khate hai".

So if you watched Shikha Pandey and Jhulan Goswami at the Wankhede on Monday, you might tell a friend, slack jawed with admiration, "Kya swing-ving kiya yaar!"

Shikha Pandey and Jhulan Goswami have bagged 11 of the 20 English wickets in the ODI series so far. Image credit: Twitter/@BCCIWomen

Shikha Pandey and Jhulan Goswami have bagged 11 of the 20 English wickets in the ODI series so far. Image credit: Twitter/@BCCIWomen

It was quite the emphatic performance. Pandey and Goswami combined to take eight of the 10 wickets that England lost India took. I say ‘India took’, because India were chasing the game after losing the toss and being asked to bowl first in the second ODI, which was played on the same surface as the first one. Turn was expected to make an appearance in the second innings, and England had first use of a strip that Mithali Raj described as "well rolled". They could put runs on the board, scoreboard pressure on India, and keep their dream of winning a series on Indian soil for the first time alive.

The quality of bowling that followed consigned those dreams to the reddish Mumbai dust. Goswami began the proceedings, changing the end she used in the last game, aware that breeze blows differently and only slightly in the morning. Goswami, bowling royalty as the highest wicket-taker in ODIs, charged in from the southern Garware Pavilion End, closest to the kind of real estate only royalty can afford. From the Tata End, closer to the hardworking suburbs, steamed in the hardworking Pandey. From her also came the first breakthrough, picking up a wicket in her first over for the second game in succession.

What followed was an hour-long jugalbandi of swing and seam. Goswami had played a holding role in the last ODI, when she bowled in the afternoon heat that had sapped the pitch dry, and enabled Pandey to attack with swing in the breezy air. But now there were shadows cast by the rising sun still stretching across the ground, and the coolness of the morning still gave some life to the pitch. That was all the experienced fast bowler needed. She put aside the ego that rises when the ‘keeper stands up to the stumps. She put a fielder at short cover to block the batter’s escape. And she probed away. “Just putting the ball in the right areas, that was the plan,” she said after the game. Over and over again.

Constructed constriction, with a hint of movement, and it worked; she prised out the effervescent Sarah Taylor, feet glued to the crease and limp bat dragging the ball back to her stumps. Then she found the prized wicket of the obdurate Heather Knight, popping a catch to that short cover fielder. It was harmony between the bowler and captain, a tune that left England 14 for 3 in the seventh over.

Swing continued from the south, and Pandey examined the fourth stump line without giving away the loose ball that she often does. “I am trying to work hard on consistency,” she said. “There were a few technical issues, which (coach WV) Raman sir — when he came in — brought it to my notice. I was very surprised that I did not kind of realise those... It has actually helped a lot.” She went on to have a long, seven-over spell, without showing any dips in swing, pace or accuracy. By the time she took a break, she had conceded only 12 runs off 42 balls, and pouched another wicket courtesy a brilliant diving catch from Deepti Sharma. England 44 for 4.

Both returned for impressive second spells, with Pandey crushing the lower middle order, taking two LBWs in her 10th over, still dealing in swing more than halfway through the game. She ended with 4 for 18, her best figures, and a stellar show considering four months ago she had been dropped from an Indian squad for the first time since her debut in 2014. Goswami was called in to end a resistant 42-run stand between Natalie Sciver and No 11 Alex Hartley. She never once relaxed the field to the set batter to try to. With sustained pressure, she finally dismissed Sciver for 85, with the batter losing the game of you-miss-I-hit. Goswami had 4 for 30 and the 'Player of the Match' award.

The pair made history; according to cricket statistician Hypocaust, this was the first time two India women fast bowlers claimed four-fors in the same match, and only the fourth such instance in women's ODIs. That this performance came at home made it all the more impressive. After all the talk of England preparing for spin, Pandey and Goswami have now taken 11 of the 20 England wickets to fall so far. And this revitalised opening combination, with their concoction of swing-ving, is shubh shubh for India. India’s third consecutive ODI series win is now in the bag, “We have had this happy knack of getting the ODI series. It is start of something new,” said Pandey.

The India team will now look for only the second ever whitewash against England, having blanked them 5-0 back in 2002, Goswami’s debut series. India have taken 2-0 leads in three of their four ICC Women’s Championship series'. In all three, they have conceded the last ODI, losing out on a sweep of ICC Championship points. “We would like to take the level a little higher and win it three-nil,” said Pandey. “That’s our next goal.” The start of something new.

Updated Date: February 26, 2019 12:57:17 IST

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