In 1997, India hosted the Women’s Cricket World Cup for the 2nd time. Eden Gardens was given the responsibility to organise the Final Match between Australia and New Zealand. In the Final, won by Australia to establish their monopoly over the Cup, a 15 years old girl from Chakdah could see lanky Cathryn Fitzpatrick steaming in from the High-court end, in front of a huge crowd. That sight ignited her dream to play for India one day and 5 years later, Jhulan could see herself in the whites.
Jhulan Goswami who went wicket-less in the debut test against England took three wickets in the 2nd innings of the test against South Africa. Her opening spell rattled South Africa at Paarl. Her 3/63 helped India to secure their first-ever test victory over South Africa in their own backyard. She also picked up 3 wickets at Taunton, in her first tour of England, the test best remembered for Mithali Raj’s record-breaking knock.
However, Jhulan got her first five-wicket haul in 2005, when she fierce spell reduced England to 25/3 in Delhi. She ended the innings with a figure of 5/25 to wrap up England at 154. Though the match ended at the draw as England survived the final day of the game based on Jenny Gunn’s match-saving knock, Jhulan’s bowling was praised by the experts.
After their loss at the 2005 World Cup Final, the Indian team had a good run at ODIs. Their unbeaten run of 9 matches included defeating England (4-1) and the Asia Cup victory at Karachi. Their honeymoon year of 2005 came to an end, and so did their winning streak. They lost 7 out of 8 matches against Australia and New Zealand and in their tour to England they were handed defeat in 4 ODI matches.
Jhulan picked up 11 wickets in their tour to Australia and New Zealand while claimed only 4 wickets in the 4 match prior to the Test match. In the first test which ended in a draw, she picked up 5 wickets in the match.
Taunton had been a favourite ground for the Indian women team. In 2002 Mithali Raj became the first Indian women to score 200 and broke the record of highest individual run in Test match by Karen Rolton. In 2006, Indian skipper won the decision to bat first. Based on Anjum Chopra’s 98 India managed to put up 307 in the first innings.
And it was time for the Indian pacers to step up and deliver. Jhulan Goswami, with her smooth rhythmic action, delivered the goods as she dismissed Laura Newton for a duck and Claire Taylor for a single. In her fourth over, Goswami’s perfectly pitched out-swinger found Claire Taylor’s edge and in her fifth over another away swinger accounted for Caroline Atkins. England was reduced to 22/3.
Though Sarah Taylor and Jenny Gunn then offered some resistance, Taylor was trapped leg before wicket, aiming across Sharma who then had Beth Morgan caught behind for another duck. Captain Charlotte Edwards came down the order as she was feeling unwell. Goswami who had three wickets in first 8 overs trapped Edwards to pick up her 4th scalp of the match. Jhulan took her 2nd fifer of her career when she got Laura Marsh for a duck in the very next ball of the over. Her 5/33 was enough to restrict England before 100. England was all out on 99 and was asked to follow on.
India relied on Jhulan Goswami’s pace and movement to make early inroads once again and she was again equal to the task. She had to wait until her sixth over when a pitch of a delivery removed Newton. It was an exceptional delivery that defeated Laura Newton, swinging in a shade, then moving from leg to clip off-stump. Newton lost her both the wickets to Jhulan. However, with the score 34 for one, Atkins called for an unlikely run to cover and Taylor, England’s in-form batsman, was run out.
Caroline Atkins had a point to prove and began her innings with a lot of intent. Edwards batted with freedom, reaching 50 off 91 balls with 11 fours, while Atkins needed 222 balls to reach the same mark, with seven fours. Edwards completed century off 204 balls, with 20 fours. Both of them went back to the pavilion, unbeaten at the end of days play as England ended with 205/2 in their 2nd innings. Both of them added 171 runs for the 3rd wicket before, n, an England record. They broke the previous best of 137 between Rachel Heyhoe-Flint and Edna Baker at Melbourne in 1968.
The next day, Edwards (105) was removed by Jhulan after adding 7 runs to the total. She was dropped after mistimed pull but she failed to make it count. Within 4 runs, Jhulan uprooted Jenny Gunn’s stump. England was 216/4. While Noosin-al Khadeer tackled with the lower order, Jhulan cleaned up the lower order. Laura Marsh and Isha Guha both were trapped in front of the wicket by Goswami to end the innings on 305.
Jhulan took her 2nd fifer of the test match and with this, she became the first Indian women’s cricketer to take 10 wickets in a test match. Her figure of 10/78 was the best for any Indian women in a test match. At the same time, she is the 2nd Indian cricketer to take 10 wickets in a test match after Chetan Sharma. However, her figure was the best for any bowler from Indian in England in the test.
The task for India was to score these runs in 31 overs for their first test victory over England that too in their own backyard. The quick breakthrough came as a respite for England as Rumeli Dhar was caught and bowled by Laura Marsh. Sulakshana Naik and keeper Karu Jain did most of the work but were caught by Edwards off Gunn and Colvin. With captain Mithali Raj and debutant Reema Malhotra at the crease, India finished the game with five wickets to spare. Duo added 24 runs for the last wicket and secured a 5 wicket victory.
The 10-wicket haul by Goswami earned her both the Player of the Match and Series awards. She was pumped up by the humiliation in the ODI series, and her anger reflected in her haul of 10/78 in the match. She ended with 15 wickets in two Tests and it was the third consecutive Test in which she had got the Player of the Match award.