HomeFeature"Meg Yahan Hain": Teary Eyed Meg Lanning Makes Her Presence Felt In...

“Meg Yahan Hain”: Teary Eyed Meg Lanning Makes Her Presence Felt In The Women’s Premier League

Meg Lanning had to watch it from away that someone else rather than her was lifting the much-coveted trophy, for the 2nd time in a row in the TATA WPL. Last year it was Harmanpreet Kaur and this time she lost the final to Smriti Mandhana. Of course, it was not easy for her. Meg doesn’t love losing. Delhi Capitals, just like the inaugural season topped the group stage with 6 victories from 8 matches and qualified for the finals.

They could have finished undefeated if they hadn’t lost to MI in the first match by conceding a six on the last ball and failing to score 2 runs from the last 4 balls against UP.  However similar to last season  Delhi faltered once again, like last time they triggered a collapse, losing their 10 wickets for 49 runs to bundle out to 113.  And as MI did in the first season, RCB chased down the target with 3 balls to spare.

With years of experience in leading a side like Australia, Lanning has become a pro at things like hiding stress or anxiety or any kind of hard feelings during the match. Even if she was freaked out inside, she never let herself express that tense face as a captain. She knows that her players look up to her and if they find that Lanning is freaked out that might spread around the team. So she has to pretend that everything is under control. But not every day goes as one plans out. As RCB players were celebrating, at the boundary line Meg Lanning’s  fierce eyes, that long for victory at any cost, filled with tears, despite her attempt to hide it. She even tried to pull herself up with a smile, as the camera focused on her, but was not successful enough.

Though the results were  same in both years, something changed between the two WPLs. From becoming the most successful captain of not only Australia but modern-day cricket, Meg Lanning decided to call it a day in international cricket.

“…..it has been essentially my life for thirteen years, I know nothing other than that. I am sad that it’s finishing up and it’s time to go and move on. I have achieved so much within the game and I have been lucky enough to have such a successful career and be part of various successful teams and I guess I feel like I have nothing left to achieve on the international stage.”

As she was trying to hold back her tears, failed though, while drawing curtains on her ceremonious international career in a somewhat not so much ceremonious fashion, in front of a handful of journalists, the announcement stunned the cricket. This came early November morning, a few days after resuming her journey in the WBBL, leading Melbourne Stars.

Meg Lanning
Meg Lanning (Photo by Joe Allison-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Meg Lanning was making her comeback after taking a break after the inaugural WPL and said that she was in a better head space and rather than bulldozed into the National side for the upcoming India series, she wanted to make her journey through the domestic circuit.

1 ODI World Cup and 4 T20 World Cups, including a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal – none of the male or female captains had as much success while winning a trophy as she has, Meg Lanning’s decision came after she took breaks from cricket after the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and then again after the T20 World Cup title-winning campaign in 2023.

Lanning’s first year in the WPL was superb. Coming out of a break, with better head space, Lanning opened the batting for Delhi Capitals and batted with a strike rate of 140. 345 runs along with two half-centuries and an average of  49.28 not only took Delhi off to a flyer in the power play but earned her the Orange Cap in the inaugural season.

In their first match against RCB in 2023, where Tara Norris became the first player in the history of WPL to take a fifer, Shafali and Meg Lanning put up an opening act of 162 from 87 balls, Lanning contributing 72 from 43, striking at 167.44. She followed it up with another 70 against UP Warriors and her strike rate was 167.

Out of 9 innings that year, Lanning and Verma added more than 50 runs for the first wicket on 5 occasions giving themselves an early edge in most of the matches.  Even in the final, during the collective failure of the batting unit, she chipped in with 35. After she was run out, DC lost 4 wickets for 5 runs.

In the second season of the WPL, Meg Lanning was much more relaxed after her international retirement. Speaking to the Delhi Capitals Podcast she said being the captain of the national side she has been perceived in a certain way and she felt she needed to uphold things 24*7 and couldn’t let her guard down too much. But since she stepped back she felt much lighter and now she can do things without thinking much about what people think about her.

WPL was very much freeing to Meg. She came to the second season of the WPL with a sense of freedom and she wanted to have more fun and enjoy the game, not getting drowned by pressure and expectations. However, the competitiveness hadn’t left Meg even though she left international cricket, wanting to win matches and getting better day by day. She had three consecutive half-centuries against Gujarat, Mumbai and UP Warriors. Though her partnership with Verma took a dip still they had three half-century stands including a 119-run stand for the first wicket against UP Warriors.

Till the final, Meg Lanning was the leading run scorer, before Perry climbed it with her unbeaten 35 in the Final. 676 runs with an average of 42.25,  Meg Lanning tops the chart of most runs in the history of WPL with 6 half centuries.

ALSO READ: WPL 2024: Delhi Capitals – Comprehensive Season Review

But Meg Lanning’s legacy in the Delhi side is beyond only numbers. Over the years Meg Lanning has learnt one thing and as she said in one of her interviews with CricketMonthly, that was she is not good at everything so she needs to trust other people’s strength.  In one of the post-match interviews, another Aussie legend Jess Jonassen said, Meg Lanning has the ability to make you feel bigger than you are. She gives you so much confidence and truly believes in you.”

Meg Lanning and Shafali Verma (Image: Getty)
Meg Lanning and Shafali Verma (Image: Getty)

Besides becoming the best batter, Lanning always wanted to be remembered as someone who inspired others and someone whom people loved to play along with. She is always in a constant effort to build a relationship with her teammates and take the best out of them. In the same interview in CricketMonthly in 2020,  Lanning expressed that despite being a guarded person, lately, she has been more willing to show her emotion a little bit and that in turn has helped her to build relationship with her teammates, transcending the barrier of captain’s tag.

That was evident in the Delhi Capitals environment. Let’s take Shafali Verma for instance. The hard-hitting Indian opener seems to have found a perfect partner in Meg Lanning. Verma who used to suffer from inconsistency, learnt from Lanning how to convert her small innings into big innings. She knows that she can’t do things right on bad days but on the good days she needs to play longer innings. Both of them share a bond and Shafali is willing to learn from her.

Shafali, the brute force, didn’t know what consistency was. But watching Lanning play from the other end she now knows that now she understands how important that is. How much Lanning took Shafali under her wings was evident from the fact that in 2023 when Verma ended the match against Gujarat with more than 12 overs to spare, Lanning said from the other side that though she was not expecting that she was happy to cheerleading Verma.

Two contrasting personalities per se created a bond where Lanning could calm nervous Shafali and even say that she is very much eager to open the batting with Shafali Verma before the 2nd season of WPL as she takes a lot of pressure off Lanning with her fearless approach. Their 885 runs for the opening stand in 18 innings came along with the laughter and chatter between both of them. But their partnership became more enjoyable as Lanning termed it, because they filled each other’s gap, batting together.

Meg Lanning who didn’t know her much, before coming to the tournament’s too impressed by her involvement towards the game and her willingness to learn. And, she believes that though Shafali is a bit of a hit-and-miss at this point, she is a match-winner.

Take Minnu Mani for example. The first girl from Kerala to play for India was awestruck when she first made her debut under Meg Lanning’s captaincy.

In an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Women’s CricInsight, she said, “Playing my first match in WPL and that too under a skipper like Meg Lanning, was something I never dreamt of. It is beyond my imagination and thought that I have played under one of the greatest captains of our times. Before the match, Meg Lanning asked ‘All set? Good to go?,’ “When she handed me the ball she cheered me up and every time I went to bowl she was very much supportive. If I delivered a gem or got hit for four, she every time puts an injection a sense of belief irrespective of how I bowl,” she added.

Minnu who had led her state-side Kerala several times and even went to lead India A side against England last December credits the time she has spent under the leadership of Meg Lanning in Delhi Capitals in sharpening her leadership abilities. Spending two seasons with her, closely following how Meg Lanning tackles challenges while leading her troop out in the field has influenced her as well.

“I have learned how she leads a side” Minnu Mani about Meg Lanning

Minnu Mani (Image: WPL)
Minnu Mani (Image: WPL)

“She keeps things very simple. She reacts according to the situation and does the things that are needed exactly at that moment. I have learned how she leads a side and how she makes her players comfortable around her. All those things might have an influence when I am doing my captaincy. It helped me,” she again shared. 

Lanning showed belief in Minnu too. Once Minnu Got dropped from the side, Lanning took care of her too. In a recent interview with ESPNCricinfo, in her hard days, she got her captain, Meg Lanning by her side. In a recent interview with ESPN, she said how Meg Lanning helped her in her bowling practice. She focused on how Lanning guided her to land the ball in the right spot, by placing a cap on the pitch and also giving her the match scenarios.

Minnu made a comeback with a bang. In the last match against Gujarat, Minnu bowled two overs for nine runs and picked up the wickets of Litchfield and Gardner. As Lanning came running to hug her, Minnu rested her head on her shoulder, relieved that she might have felt that she had repaid the faith Meg Lanning showed in her.

Indian fast bowling trio of Titash Sadhu, Arundhati Reddy and Sikha Pandey also has found a new rigour under Meg Lanning’s captaincy. Titash mentioned in on of her interviews how Lanning brings composure to the side and how she comforted her seamers by assuring them that it’s okay to be hit as long as you know what you are doing, you are in the process. As JJ said the faith Meg Lanning puts in one, they try not to let down Meg Lanning. Meg is yet to win a trophy in Indian soil as captain.

Before the WPL02 a video was uploaded to Delhi’s Instagram profile, where players were looking for Meg, asking, Meg Kaha Hain? At the end of the video, Meg makes an entry proclaiming Meg Yaha Hain. Indeed. She lost the 2016 World T-20 Final and two consecutive WPL finals. But this teary-eyed, fierce World beater captain who took the captaincy of a team like Australia at the age of 21 from Jodie Fields and made it invisible, has won her place in Indian cricket.

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