Team India bounced back the second ODI against South Africa with an emphatic 9-wicket victory in Lucknow. The win came on the back of a stunning 4-42 from the pace spearhead Jhulan Goswami, a swashbuckling 80* from Smriti Mandhana and a steady 62* from Punam Raut.

After successfully restricting the visitors within a below-par total of 157, the run-chase became easy for the host which they comfortably did in just 28.4 overs. However, the win looked beautiful as they had a rather forgettable 1st ODI where both batting and bowling failed miserably. But, in the second ODI, the team looked confident and Goswami admitted that they needed time to settle as they are playing their first international series in more than a year.

“First match, we were playing after long, so it took time for us to settle down,” said Jhulan Goswami in the post-match press conference on Tuesday (March 9). “We were not up to the mark. We were able to execute our plans perfectly today. It was a good match for us. We bowled with a lot of discipline today. I just tried to bowl in the right areas consistently. First match I was bowling a little outside off-stump, today I bowled in the right areas. That adjustment I had made.”

Meanwhile, Goswami was the only wicket-taker in the 1st ODI, although that didn’t have affected the visitors. She also shared her views about the pitch that has played a crucial role for India in the 2nd game. India won the toss and elected to bowl first. While speaking about the changes, she said that it was just the basics that she was stuck to and got the success quite easily as well.

“When you’re playing a 9 o’clock match in a place like Lucknow, there’s a bit of moisture in the wicket. If you’re able to hit the ball in the right area, the ball was holding back. It was not easy to play shots then. It was much easier in the second innings on such a flat wicket. You just needed to hit through the line. If you’re bowling first on this wicket, it is an advantage for the bowlers,” she revealed.

“When you’re coming back from a long layoff, you need to work on your basics. What routine you should follow, you should maintain the same. We know we are a good team. We didn’t discuss much about the defeat, we just ensured we stuck to our basics,” she further added.

“Representing India is the biggest motivation for me”: Jhulan Goswami

At 38, she is still the prime pace bowler in the Indian Team. And to play your best, you need to be fit. After all, who doesn’t know the importance of fitness to perform consistently? However, the speedster has already hung up her boots from the shortest format and fixed her focus on the 50-over format as well. The highest wicket-taker in ODIs with 231 scalps, knows the performance is the key to stay in the team.

“Representing India is the biggest motivation for me. I don’t think you have to look elsewhere for motivation,” Goswami again revealed. “You cannot belong to the team if you don’t perform your best everyday. It’s important for us to maintain our fitness and come out strong on the field. It’s not going to be easy.”

“When I retired from T20Is, the most important thing for me was to just focus on one format. I had niggles here and there. It was quite difficult for me to maintain (my fitness). Then I spent a lot of time in training. I tried to do well everyday. As for me, I was doing a lot of training since lockdown. I just kept following that. Representing India is my biggest achievement. That’s my responsibility and job,” she further added.

However, not only Jhulan Goswami’s 4/42 was the highlight of the game, Smriti Mandhana too stood up with the bat and stole the limelight. She started with consecutive sixes off Shabnim Ismail and didn’t let any bowler put pressure on them. Her free-flowing batting gave ample time to Punam Raut who also scored a fifty and the duo took the team home without any hiccups following Jemimah Rodrigues’ dismissal.

“It was a much-disciplined bowling attack today. Today our planning was absolutely spot on. Smriti batted till the end. Then Punam Raut also followed her. It was an absolute team effort We planned and were able to execute those in a right way,” added the ‘Player of the Match’. “Smriti is a very consistent player, performing really well. She is one of the important batters on our side- either its ODI or T20 format. Her performance always matters so it’s very important for her to stay there and play longer innings.”

Meanwhile, Jhulan Goswami seemed not too comfortable while replying about Shafali Verma’s non-selection in the ODI squad. “I think this question you should ask our selectors. I’m not a member of the selection committee, I’m just a member of the team. Anything regarding Team India, ODIs and today’s match, I’ll do explain, but not regarding selection because that’s not my job, that’s you have to ask selectors,” said Jhulan Goswami.

However, except for the win, there was another thing to rejoice about for everyone. The BCCI secretary Jay Shah has recently announced that Team India will play a one-off Test match against England later this year. And, it is likely to be played during India’s tour to England. India last played in a white way back in 2014 and after a long time, they are ready to see in the longer format again.

“Everyone was very excited. We last played a Test in 2014 against South Africa in Mysore. After six years we’re going to play a Test. We are all excited. Test matches are one thing you want to play as a cricketer. You want to go there and perform well because it has a lot of challenges. Mental strength…physical strength, and that can change every session. We are excited and are looking forward to it,” Jhulan Goswami concluded.

India will take on South Africa in the third ODI on March 12 at the same venue as well.

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