India Women faltered again in the grand final, going down to Australia Women by 9 runs.

India Women had a terrific Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2022 campaign. They defeated Pakistan Women and Barbados Women to reach the last four. They held their nerves under pressure in the semi-finals to get the better of England Women by four runs in a tense finish. However, not the first time, India Women faltered again in the grand final, going down to Australia Women by 9 runs. Chasing 162, they were cruising at 118 for 2. However, India Women crumbled inexplicably to finish on 152 all out. The team thus had to settle for silver, although they were very close to winning the gold. In the wake of India Women’s defeat in the CWG 2022 final cricket competition, we analyze five reasons why they fail to deliver in big matches.

1. Mental block in finals: This is the major issue with India Women when it comes to the grand occasion. They seem to have developed a mental block that they cannot win in finals. This happened in the 2017 50-over World Cup as well. In that game against England Women at Lord’s, India Women were cruising at 138 for 2 in chase of 229. In that match as well, they ended up falling nine short. They were absolutely battered in the 2020 T20 World Cup final by Australia at the MCG. In the CWG final, they again failed to get over the line, despite being in a commanding position for most of the game.

India Women’s captain Harmanpreet Kaur admitted after the loss in the CWG final, “Every time in big finals, we make the same mistakes again and again [with the bat], that is something we have to improve. We don’t make these mistakes in the league phase or in bilateral. That is blocking our mind somewhere.”

2. Overdependence on star players: Indian women’s cricket progressed significantly in the Mithali Raj era. Yet, when it comes to performing on the big stage, they seem to be heavily dependent on just a couple of players with the willow. It was Mithali and Harmanpreet; now it is the latter and Smriti Mandhana. Harmanpreet scored a brilliant half-century in the CWG final, but after her dismissal, India Women just completely lost their way. In the 2017 World Cup final as well, Harmanpreet’s dismissal was the turning point.

3. Imbalanced playing XI: This is basically a continuation of the last point. Besides being mentally under-prepared, India Women may also not have enough players to win games in the middle and lower-order. This imbalance is something they need to ponder upon seriously. It cost them the 2017 World Cup final and the 2022 CWG gold. In 2017, they went from 138 for 2 to 219 all out, and in the CWG summit clash, they collapsed from 118 for 2 to 152. Harmanpreet accepted the same after the defeat and said, “I am someone who is always looking for one more batter in the side. Unfortunately, we’re working on that. Once we get that, this thing [collapsing] will go away.” 

4 Lack of matches: Unlike their male counterparts, India Women do not get enough games ahead of a big event. The Women’s World Cup ended at the start of April, yet India Women did not play any matches till the end of June 2022. Perhaps a series against Sri Lanka wasn’t the best preparation for the CWG. It is not a given, but stronger preparation could possibly have helped India Women.

5 BCCI needs to do more: It would be wrong to say that the BCCI is not doing much for Indian women’s cricket. Of late, they have worked towards professionalizing the sport. They are also working on Women’s IPL. But they need to do a lot more and aggressively at that. Before the 2022 World Cup, India Women did not even have a sports psychologist. The two matches in the CWG, where India Women lost to Australia Women after having the upper hand for most of the contest, prove that India are still way behind the Aussies in women’s cricket. BCCI needs to sit with the management and discuss where things are going wrong and how they can get better.

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