COVID-19 & CRICKET
The two Indian stalwarts, both at the fag end of their illustrious careers, are eyeing the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand as their swansong © Getty
They are the poster girls of women’s cricket in India. One is the world’s highest run-getter (6888) in ODIs, while the other has the most number of wickets (225). But for both Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, the biggest challenge right now is to make the best use of the lockdown period.
The two Indian stalwarts, both at the fag end of their illustrious careers, have already given up the physically-draining Twenty20 format and are eyeing the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand as their swansong. But the coronavirus outbreak, which has brought the entire world to a standstill, is hampering their preparations for the ICC’s showpiece event.
The lockdown has prompted the BCCI to cancel two major domestic events, Senior Women’s One-Day knockout and Senior Women’s One-Day Challenger.
“The BCCI had scheduled the domestic T20 meets to prepare for the T20 World Cup in Australia. So a delayed start to the one-day meets was on cards, but unfortunately the tournaments had to be cancelled. It was quite a setback as I was looking forward to playing some competitive cricket before our next international engagement,” said Jhulan, who is confined to her Dum Dum Park residence.
Echoing her teammate, Mithali said, “For Jhulan and I, who have limited ourselves to just one format, it’s little difficult as we have been out of action for a while.”
As the deadly virus infects more and more people, Mithali and Jhulan are concerned about the growing casualties. “Things are so gloomy all over the world. I can only pray for all those who are engaged in fighting this deadly virus. Tournaments can be rescheduled but lives cannot be sacrificed,” Mithali opined.
Jhulan agreed: “The need of the hour is to keep ourselves safe. There will be many matches to play after we get past this phase.”
Speaking from her Secunderabad residence, Mithali added that she had been a touch frustrated during the first week of confinement at home. “It felt odd initially as I was not going to the ground at all. It took me some time to get used to this new way of life,” the world’s most-capped (209) ODI player said.
With hardly any match practice, both Jhulan and Mithali are fretting over their lack of preparation for their next assignment, World Cup qualifiers to be held in Sri Lanka in July.
If the ICC divides the points equally among both teams since the home-series against Pakistan couldn’t go forward, India will be through to the World Cup. “In case that doesn’t happen we will have to play the qualifiers, which are likely to be rescheduled. The bilateral series against England too looks uncertain at this stage. Our preparations will take a hit,” Mithali admitted.
To counter boredom, Mithali has drawn up a timetable for herself. “I wake up before dawn, go to the terrace and work out. It’s beautiful to watch the sun rise. Then I have breakfast with my dad, something I had not done for a long time. I also water the plants and relax by watching something interesting on Netflix. In the evening I spend some time on improving my batting skills in the car park area and take leisurely walk on the terrace while watching the sun set. These things keep me going,” said Mithali.
Apart from working out, listening to music and watching movies, Jhulan is honing her culinary skills. “I have asked my cook to stay at home. So, I have to fix lunch and dinner for myself,” Jhulan said.