Dubai: As the Indian women return empty-handed one more time from a global ICC tournament after a rout to Australia in the World T20 final in Melbourne, there would be the inevitable questions raised about their temperament.
Three years back, it was an issue of so-near-yet-so-far for Mithali Raj & Co when they lost the 50-overs World Cup final to England at the Lord’s by a mere nine runs. The script went somewhat on somewhat similar lines Down Under this time when an younger team, led by the feisty Harmanpreet Kaur, stayed unbeaten through the tournament - only to find themselves overawed by the occasion in front of nearly 90,000 spectators.
Australia, marshalled by the iron lady called Meg Lanning, peaked at the right time. Starting with a loss to India in the group game, the team was struggling all along and even lost their star allrounder Elysse Perry midway in the campaign. The blazing start that their opening pair of Alyssa Healy (Player of the Final) and Beth Mooney (Player of the Tournament) gave to India reminded one of the pounding that years back - in the men’s final of the 2003 ICC World Cup - Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn and Ricky Ponting gave to Sourav Ganguly’s men.
What was galling was the way the Indian team failed to keep their chins up after dropping both the openers early on in the innings, they could never recover from the setback then lacked the application or plan to chase down a challenging target of 185.
It was a lean competition for Harmanpreet and Smriti Mandhana - the two mainstays of Indian batting - and they failed again in the final. The occasion, meanwhile, got the better of the 16-year-old prodigious Shafali Verma as she was caught behind cheaply.
Poonam Yadav, who shone throughout the World Cup and was the main reason Australia lost to India in the opening match of the competition, fell flat too as did Shikha Pandey who was taken to the cleaners.
Deepti Sharma had a good match as she took two wickets in one over and also top-scored with 33 but it was all too little in the end as the Aussies had all their bases covered.
“There is something wrong with this team. This is a team which can win every game and it does win from an unlikely situation but the next game it is losing from a comfortable position like it did today. They are simply not consistent enough,” Diana Edulji, former captain and one of the pioneering figures of women’s cricket in the country, said some time back.
It seems like the veteran was not far off the mark!