AUS vs IND CWG 2022 Final – Harmanpreet Kaur

As she took the podium to receive her silver medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Harmanpreet Kaur’s body language told you how painful it was to have missed another golden opportunity to beat Australia in a final.

Minutes later, when she gathered her thoughts to speak to the media, Harmanpreet was much more accepting of the result and spoke of the effect it could have on a young generation of Indian women who want to take up the sport.

“I am happy and satisfied with the way we played the whole game,” Harmanpreet said after India failed to take the gold medal by nine runs. “I know we were close to winning gold, but all in all our performance was great. This is the first time we are playing in this tournament and we are happy to have won a silver medal.

“A medal is something that people get inspired by at home, and they can start playing cricket. As a team, we want to inspire young girls. Performing well on this platform will motivate a lot of people at home.”

Even as the gold medal slipped out of their reach, India won many admirers with their actions even before a ball was thrown in the final. Australian all-rounder Tahlia McGrath who tested positive for Covid-19 cast a shadow over her participation even when the CWG rules deemed her fit enough to play.

The toss had to be postponed in the wake of this development, but Harmanpreet later explained the sequence of events leading up to McGrath’s inclusion in Australia’s XI.

“They informed us before the toss,” Harmanpreet said. “That was something we had no control over. The CWG had to make a decision and we’ve been okay with that since they” [Tahlia McGrath] wasn’t very sick so we decided to play. We had to show sportsmanship. I’m glad we didn’t say no to Tahlia, it [missing the final] would have been very hard on her.”

Once they got on the field, India played aggressively, as they have all tournaments. They charged with the bat, scoring over 150 in four of their five matches, and in the absence of veterans such as Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey, a young bowling attack showed that India’s future is in capable hands.

Renuka Singh in particular was menacing with her late strike. Offspinner Sneh Rana handled high pressure situations with maturity, while Deepti Sharma and Meghna Singh were also impressive in patches.

In the grand final, India’s fielding was top notch. Radha Yadav made a great run at the bowler’s end — hitting the ball back between her legs during her follow-through — to fire the dangerous Meg Lanning, then took a dive catch about to fire McGrath. There was also a one-handed blast from Deepti and a catch backtracked by Meghna, all of which contributed to India limiting Australia to 161 for 8.

“If you want to beat this Australian team, you have to field well,” said Harmanpreet. “If you give them easy runs, they can easily take the game away. We discussed it in the team meeting and Radha set the example for us.

“The effort we put in today is something we wanted to do. I know the last 2-3 overs [in the chase] were not in our favour, but throughout the game the way we played was excellent to watch. We’ve been working on our fielding for a long time. I’m happy with the way we played today.”

In the chase, India lost two early wickets, but Harmanpreet and Jemimah Rodrigues added 96 to rekindle India’s gold medal hopes before losing their last eight wickets for 34 runs.

“After losing two crucial wickets, the way Jemi and I hit was much needed at the time,” said Harmanpreet. “You have to control your nerves. We were almost there. Maybe as Pooja [Vastrakar] if I was around we could have won the match. But that’s part of the game; sometimes you can’t control things. It’s great learning for us.

“I’m someone who’s always looking for another batter on the side. Unfortunately, we’re working on that. Once we have that, this thing [collapsing] will go away. Every time in grand finals we make the same mistakes again and again [with the bat], that’s something we need to improve on. We don’t make these mistakes in the competition phase or bilaterally. That’s blocking our minds somewhere.”

When asked to summarize where they stand as a team, Harmanpreet echoed Lanning’s thoughts that India was not far from a dominant power.

“Yeah sure, I know we could have easily won gold, but something is better than nothing, at least we have silver,” said Harmanpreet. “We earned it for so much hard work. If it’s not gold, we’re happy with what we got today.

“[As a team] we are on the right track, we just need to keep working hard. As Lanning said, we are not far from dominating in all formats.”

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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