Indian spinners were a big let down: Shantha

Published: Tuesday, January 4, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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The 2000 women's World Cup was, indeed, an out-and-out success but from the Indian point of view the much talked about World Cup and the subsequent heartbreak is worth pondering over. Thatscricket.com spoke at length to Shantha Rangaswamy, who had the opportunity of watching the Indian cricketers in action from close quarters, in an effort to unravel the shortcomings.

"To put it in a sentence, expectations were belied," is what the former great had to say with regards to the tremendous high with which the team left the Indian shores; only to put up a very scratchy performance - against teams that mattered the most.

"The famed spin quartet did not live up to even 25 per cent of what was expected of them. They did miss Pramila Bhatt sorely. In hind sight, the 1997 team was a much better outfit," said Shantha of what went wrong out in the middle at Kiwi land.

The fact that the Indians packed their side with four frontline spinners and were only asking for trouble (given the foreign conditions), was vehemently defended by the great all-rounder. In her opinion Magno, Fahey, Nicholson, Campbell - all spinners - were more than a hand full in the tournament.

In fact, she feels we had a couple of pacers in the guise of spinners. Deepa Kulkarni and Roopanjali Shastri are more pacers than spinners in Shantha's book. "Moreover, our pacers (the real ones) are not of a class to have merited the non inclusion of spinners," says Shantha in defence of India's strategy to play with four frontline spinners.

"Bowling was our strong point going into the tournament. There is no doubt that our bowlers let us down," said the lady with her customary assertion. However, she feels many other factors went against India. The chucking controversy definitely had thrust a cog in the wheel and Mithali's sickness had not helped matters.

She for one feels Mithali's indisposition dealt a hefty blow on India's fortune. "Mithali is India's Sachin and you can imagine what becomes of the Indian team when he has to sit out. Well, it was a very similar scenario."

Dwelling more on the chucking issue, she did shed light on the fact that it was the commentary team of the sponsoring website that initially spotted the discrepancy, which was later picked up by the umpires and that did not reflect well on the umpires.

She also felt that the Indians were very negative in their approach which did not speak well of the management and the captain. In fact, she said that it was startling to know that when it was reportedly pointed out in the meeting that India had not bowled the opposition out even once, chef-de-mission Srirupa is said to have remarked "they were out there only to contain".

"But more than anything else this team lost it in the mind. This team was not at all mentally tough," is what Shantha had to say.

"Mental toughness can be developed only by playing highly competitive tournaments in the domestic circuits. Back home most of our top cricketers are involved in lopsided affairs which then is no wonder that they fizzle out when encountered with pressure situations."

In conclusion, the former great said, "Unless the standard of domestic cricket rises by several notches one cannot aspire for big things. There is no point having lengthy camps unless they are alternated with keen, competitive tournaments."

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