Mithali pays tribute to longtime teammate Jhulan.
Mithali pays tribute to longtime teammate Jhulan. Jhulan Goswami was so dedicated to the game that she would “spitfire” even while bowling in the nets, and her longstanding teammate and captain, Mithali Raj, was often the target.
Indian cricket’s all-time leading run scorer Mithali, who retired in July after a stellar career, greeted fast bowling legend Jhulan on Saturday.
Mithali and Jhulan have been teammates for nearly two decades. During that time, they witnessed the meteoric rise of women’s cricket in India, experienced many unforgettable victories, and suffered some devastating defeats together.
Mithali spoke to PTI about Jhulan’s enormous impact, longevity, and continuous hard work throughout the years, starting with her own ‘Chakdaha Express’ days when she was just 19 and first joined the Indian squad.
Because of our shared chronological age, we are at ease with one another.
It was simple to start a conversation with her at any time. Mithali speculated that her high enthusiasm on the field stemmed from her status as a fast bowler.
The 39-year-unwavering old’s commitment allowed him to become the ODI’s all-time leading wicket-taker. She didn’t have much swing, but her accuracy and clever use of the seam helped her take several wickets.
Mithali recalls that the competitive atmosphere of Jhulan was clear even in the nets. When we were in the nets together, I asked her, “Why are you spewing fire? You are my teammate alone, na!” Then, “to get out is the toughest,” she’d explain.
We often played against each other in domestic cricket, and she always brought her A-game. That competition was entertaining to me as well.
Although Jhulan was a fast bowler, he possessed a soft side that belied his reputation for toughness. Mithali recalled a game from the Indian Premier League in which she saw a different side of Jhulan.
We made it to the semi-finals and lost (Railways versus Bengal). While playing at home, I neglected to bring my helmet. Jhulan’s shots were aimed squarely at my noggin, and I did leave many of her bouncers.
Soon after, she approached me and asked, “Why aren’t you wearing a helmet?” So I thought, “I didn’t bring a helmet, so how am I supposed to wear one?”
Those days were filled with laughter. The former India captain claimed that even her opponents feared her when she was at the top of her game.
Her pinpoint accuracy was particularly notable. She was more of a straight-arm bowler who could get the job done quickly than a swing bowler.
The shears were her trump card. In her prime, she hardly ever threw a curveball. With Rumeli Dhar and Amita Sharma out of the lineup, India depended primarily on spin, but Jhulan was the one constant in their speed attack.
“She went it alone for a long time, starting at one end. Occasionally, people would back her up, but more often than not, she would be the only one exerting any effort.”
That’s still true in our current era. Mithali and Jhulan both entered the game at a time when women’s cricket was largely ignored. As of 2006, it was governed by the BCCI.
Early in our careers, we probably had a lot of fun together, albeit she was usually the target of my practical jokes.
We had to adapt to a new set of teammates as we grew up and moved on from the sport. Since she was the team’s go-to communicator, having her on board was a big benefit.
She always offered her opinion when I asked for it. Mithali also has warm feelings towards their time spent together in the middle. I enjoyed batting with her and thought she had the potential to make significant contributions with the bat.
We have witnessed the best of collaborations, the greatest of triumphs, and the darkest of defeats. Though it’s unfortunate, we should take this opportunity to honor her long career in the game. It is difficult to make a living as a fast bowler.
Mithali revealed some surprising information when they discussed Jhulan’s hobbies and interests outside of sports.
She likes to keep up with international events and politics by reading about them.
She also stands out for her extensive understanding of men’s cricket. I told her she would be the first person I’d call if a question about cricket ever landed in the hot seat (KBC).