The Indian women's team exceeded all expectations at the recently concluded ICC Women's World Cup by reaching the final of the tournament and came excruciatingly close to winning the Cup, before finishing second best to hosts England.
This was India's second entry into the summit clash of women's cricket's showpiece event and just like in 2005, they failed to cross the final hurdle. India's campaign had many stars at different stages of the tournament. Here is Cricketnext's report card as we analyse the performance of every player from Sunday's game.
Punam Raut: Rating 7: Verdict: Good
The right-handed opener was India's second highest scorer in the tournament with a tally of 381 runs in 9 matches. Punam's primary job was to give the team a steady start and play the sheet anchor's role at the top of the order. She scored a masterful century against Australia in the league phase and was India's highest scorer in the final against England, but unfortunately the team lost both these matches. Lack of consistency and inability to turn big knocks into match-winning ones are things that Raut needs to improve in order to become a champion cricketer in future.
Smriti Mandhana: Rating 5: Verdict: Average
The left-handed opener became the talk of the town when she slammed a match-winning half-century and century, respectively, in India's first two matches of the tournament. But Mandhana, known for her big hitting skills, failed to get going thereafter. Such was the dip in her form, that she scored only 36 runs in 7 innings after a great start to the tournament. Mandhana has the potential to become a great batsman in the days to come and she has age on her side.
Mithali Raj: Rating 8: Verdict: Very Good
For years Mithali Raj has been the flag bearer of Indian women's cricket and the captain didn't disappoint in the big tournament as she finished as the team's highest run-getter and the second highest run-getter of the tournament with a total tally of 409 runs. Consistency was the key for Mithali, who also reached the landmark of becoming the highest run-getter in women's ODI cricket and also became the first player to score six thousand runs.
Her century in the virtual quarter-final against New Zealand and cool and calm captaincy in the semi-final against Australia were the highlights of the veteran's tournament.
Harmanpreet Kaur: Rating 7: Verdict: Good
The hard-hitting middle-order batswoman showed the full scale and range of her batting might in the semi-final against Australia as she decimated the defending champions with an unbeaten knock of 171 runs, which is being hailed by many as the best seen in women's cricket ever. She scored two half-centuries also, including one in the final, but her efforts were not enough to take India to the title. Harmanpreet also picked up five wickets with her part-time off spin.
Being the vice-captain of the current team, Harmanpreet is expected to take over the reigns of the team, once Mithali Raj decides to hang her boots.
Deepti Sharma: Rating 8: Verdict: Very Good
A utility cricketer, the 19-year old is a captain's delight as she can bowl effective off-spin and is also a handy bat in the middle order. Deepti Sharma was India;s highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 12 scalps and also contributed with 219 runs, including two half-centuries. She is expected to be a key member of the team in the days to come
Veda Krishnamurthy: Rating 6: Verdict: Above Average
Krishnamurthy's USP is her ability to get quick runs and that was on display during her match-winning knock against New Zealand. The middle-order batswoman completely changed the complexion of the must-win game by scoring 70 runs in just 45 deliveries to help India set up a winning total and eventually qualify for the semi-finals. She didn't get anough opportunities to bat in the rest of the matches, and failed to deliver in the all important final. Another one for the future.
Jhulan Goswami: Rating 7: Verdict: Good
The tall pacer has been the leader of India's bowling attack for years now and she was at her best yet again, bowling a very tight line and length. Jhulan picked up 10 wickets in the tournament, and bowled her heart out in the final to finish with figures of 3/23. Ar 34, her best years are behind her, but Jhulan can still play a key role in grooming the youngsters with her vast experience.
Poonam Yadav: Rating 7: Verdict: Good
Poonam Yadav's googlies and leg-breaks were a treat to watch as she bamboozled opponents with her guile, The diminutive player picked up 11 wickets in the tournament and finished as India's second most successful bowler. Her figures of 2/36 in the final were second best to that of Jhulan Goswami.
Needs to be more consistent with her lengths in the days to come and reduce the number of full-tosses.
Shikha Pandey: Rating 7: Verdict: Good
A spirited paceman, who opened the bowling alongside Jhulan Goswami in most matches, Pandey picked up 8 wickets in 7 matches and had a fairly consistent tournament. Could be looked at a possible replacement for Jhulan in the days to come. Has a poor outing in the final though as she gave away 53 runs in what was not a very high-scoring affair.
Ekta Bisht: Rating 5: Verdict: Average
The left-arm spinner produced a match-winning performance in the match against Pakistan as her five-wicket haul helped India defend a low total. Played only 6 matches and picked up 9 wickets. She was dropped from the playing XI after the loss to Australia in the league phase.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad: Rating 6: Verdict: Above Average
Gayakwad was included in the playing XI at the expense of Bisht and put in a match-winning performance almost immediately. She was the wrecker-in-chief, picking up a five-wicket haul in the virtual quarter-final against New Zealand. She finished with a total tally of 7 wickets in 3 matches, but her performances in both the semi-final and final were not up to the mark.
Mona Meshram and Mansi Joshi were also part of the squad but did not play a significant role, hence Cricketnext has decided not to include them in the rating.
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