India v New Zealand, Women's World Cup, Derby July 16, 2017

Raj hails resilience of 'new India'

ESPNcricinfo staff
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How you make a comeback is important - Raj

Following the 186-run win against New Zealand in Derby, Mithali Raj has hailed her team as a "new India". Needing a win in their final league game to qualify for the semi-finals of the Women's World Cup, India shrugged off the effects of successive losses to South Africa and Australia and turned in their best performance of the tournament. Having posted 265 thanks to a century from Raj and fifties from Harmanpreet Kaur and Veda Krishnamurthy, India bowled New Zealand out for 79, with Rajeshwari Gayakwad grabbing a five-wicket haul in her first game of the tournament.

"The girls realised it was a must-win game for us to qualify for the semis," Raj said, after the match. "We came back to the ground where we've played four games, so we know how the wicket and the outfield plays.

"The girls wanted to do well today, give their best and they knew it was one game that could get us into the semis. I'm extremely happy that the girls made a comeback.

"I think this is a new India team. In the earlier editions, we've seen one bad day and then we've never made a comeback into the tournament. This is a very good win for the girls and it will give them a real boost and a lot of confidence."

Raj said India's players had been "very down" on the eve of the match, and that she had spoken to her team-mates about the importance of bouncing back from setbacks.

"I'm very happy and thrilled because, until yesterday, most of the girls were very down because of the performance that we displayed in the last two games, against South Africa and Australia. Of course, Indian camp was on the back foot after two games, but it's something I have always told the girls - if you're aiming to play the semi-finals or trying to be in the top four in the world, it's important that we need to make comebacks after disappointments. Usually that's what the best teams are made up of. Every time you may not win a game, but how you make a comeback is very important."

Raj was pleased with the performance of India's new-ball pair of Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey, who sent back both of New Zealand's openers by the third over of the chase, easing the job of Gayakwad and the other spinners.

"It's always important that if the fast bowlers give you those couple of early wickets, then the spinners really don't have the pressure of getting the first wicket," Raj said. "It happened in the last two games, against Australia and South Africa, that the spinners had lot of pressute when they came in to get that one wicket. But today, when we had Suzie Bates in the second over, we knew they were already on the back foot because when you're chasing 260-plus, the team always looks for the openers to give them a good start."

India have lost seven of their last eight ODIs against Australia, stretching back to July 2011, but Raj said there was no reason why they couldn't beat them in Thursday's semi-final if they continued to play the way they had against New Zealand.

"Australians are a very good side, very rounded side," Raj said. "They have a lot of depth in the batting and they have good bowlers. But again it is how the team responds to the situation on that day, how we step up, because it is one game now, and if we continue to play the way we played today, there is more possibility that we can beat Australia."

Raj's 123-ball 109 against New Zealand was her sixth ODI hundred. She is also the leading run-getter in Women's ODIs, having gone past Charlotte Edwards' career tally during India's match against Australia in Bristol.

"Well, I think nothing beats representing India at the biggest stage," she said, when asked what keeps driving her. "I'm at my peak, I'm playing well, I've worked on my game since the last year, I was preparing for the World Cup, and I'm happy that I'm still scoring runs for the country."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajesh on July 17, 2017, 15:10 GMT

    While wishing all the best to India's ladies cricket team for the SF, I have a few issues with Mithali Raj:

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    1 - She is not a good reader of the wicket. Agains NZ she wanted to bowl first. Against Aus she made the mistake of bowling first when the history of the pitch shows that 4 teams won batting first. The 3 times when teams batting 2nd had won they'd scored below 200.

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    2-Raj should improve her batting strike-rate and advice Poonam Raut to do so too.

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    3 - Mithali hails a "new India"! LOL! In what sense? Just because NZ (who've better Win % against Ind) collapsed in one match. And does "new India" mean batting with a Test match mindset?

  • Steve on July 17, 2017, 14:06 GMT

    To be fair, Ind did raise their game and intensity on the field up a notch in a must win situation. They were also aided by inexplicable implosion by NZ from whom a much better show was expected. Aussies are no NZ and are on a roll all through out the round robin stage. India needs to play even better cricket than they did against NZ to progress to finals. Hoping for a cracking encounter. May the better team win.

  • Naresh on July 17, 2017, 0:20 GMT

    I disagree with comments about importance of Raj innings. She rebuilt when India were 2 wickets down. By having sealed one end it allowed the innings to get a platform. Raj is a stroke player. It then gave Krishnamurthy a chance to go carefree. Both innings were important. It was important to have a target in mind. The openers are okay with left/right combo to ensure the bowlers dont get on top. There needs to be a contribution by more batsman not just three in this case. Gayawad is important as she gives the bowling unit variety which was missing in previous games. Her round the wicket accurate balls balls were winners.

  • m.opin1594230 on July 16, 2017, 20:49 GMT

    Tournament is still underway, not correct to say 'New India' at this moment. People got tired already with similar statements for years with great male cricketers. So I hope women will not make that mistakes.

  • saurav5567022 on July 16, 2017, 16:27 GMT

    @kiran ... Have some sense before commenting... Can u calculate the strike rate of Raj against NZ... And had it not been for her India wud not have even crossed the 200 run barrier... She played with sensible strategy.. picked up singles and built crucial partnerships with Kaur and Veda... When u have an experienced partner at other end who is in already settled then that that gives u the courage to hit big boundaries... And Veda applied the same... Throughout the tournament she has taken her team to home when ur openers have failed miserably... Mandhana needs a stern message from the team. At such a level one is playing so casually without knowing the importance of the match... 5 failures on the trot... She has become complacent after the hundred she scored against West Indies...

  • Surya on July 16, 2017, 15:33 GMT

    Hamza Salman: it's time for you to wake up and check the reality of your favourite team who returned with glorious record of 7-0, including 4 matches were humiliation including against India match. Don't both much about India. Playing against Australia would be difficult, everyone knows this, that's why they are World champions 7 times, and England (arguably second best women team in last 15 years never defeated Australia in WC since 1998, imagine how strong Australia women team is. Look at other Asian countries, how pathetic they are in this WWC, Indian ladies team is playing 100 times better than rest of Asian teams...period

  • Kiran on July 16, 2017, 14:26 GMT

    It was Veda's innings that made a huge difference. From 220 which is a sub-par total to 260 which is a daunting one. Once Bates was gone it was game over. Raj as usual played for her 100 even at the death. Hopefully Mandana clicks against Aus as I see another 100 ball 50 innings from Raj which will ensure a poor score. In women's cricket the concept of power hitting is not present and it is imperative that a good SR is maintained by all batters. Raj has been dismal to the point of being selfish with her SR. How do you expect every match for batters lower down the order to make 30 ball 50s to get the team to a decent score ?? It is time to make Kaur the captain. We dont need individual records useless in teams cause. I am reminded of a few Mumbai batsmen from 90s Era after seeing Raj bat.

  •   Anish Chatterjee on July 16, 2017, 14:18 GMT

    Do well Indian girls, you still have to prove a lot to prove for idiots what you are capable of.. these are the same idiots who think Indian mens team is the best, seriously its time for you gals to wake up...the indian mens team is a complete disaster and a discouraging bunch of idiots who dont have the caliber to represent india, Kohli is a nightmare and a joke, he has no respect for anyone and will never change, please do well and win this semi final....For the sake of Indian cricket, you gals have to do well

  •   Chandra Prashad on July 16, 2017, 13:31 GMT

    Well done Mithali and the other girls! You just have two more matches to go all the way. We know you can do it. Go girls! Best of luck from all your well wishers in the Bahamas. Mandana will come good and Mithali, Goswami.Gaekwad, Panday,Raut,and the others will put in one special effort for the next two games.

  • Ashok on July 16, 2017, 13:16 GMT

    Dismissal of Bates in the First over was the turning point of the Match. Well done Pandey. Bates is the best & leading scorer for the NZ. India need a similar blow delivered to the Aussies who have more than one leading bat, albeit Lanning is the good one to aim at. Mithali is right on when she states that the Fast bowlers did their job. In ODI every member in XI has to do her job for the Team to succeed. Unfortunately, the Indian team had a slow turner pitch in their last encounter which made Bisht ineffective. It appears Gayakwad is little quicker on a more responsive Derby Pitch. Deepti is also more effective off spinner. However the Indian batting was cut short by the Aussie Leg spinner. I do hope India focuses more on how to cope with the leg spinner to put up a Winning total. Although India put up a good total, it was chased easily because of ineffective bowling. So all 5 bowlers must be economical + wkt. takers, for India to pull off a "W"!. Catches Win matches-Good Luck !

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