'A fantastic wicket to bat on' - Goswami
It doesn't happen often that the No.1 bowler in a format calls the pitch a "batting paradise", doesn't take any wickets in 10 overs, and is happy with it.
A total of 267 runs were scored in the 90 overs of the match at a collective run rate of just under three per over. Both sides were bowled out, only seven of the 22 players reached double figures and just one crossed 50. These numbers may not tempt many players to bat on this pitch, but the top-scorer of the match - Jhulan Goswami - called the track "fantastic" for batting, adding that it was an ideal wicket for one-day cricket.
"I was enjoying my batting and wicket was fantastic (for batting)," Goswami said. "It was coming on to the bat very nicely. On this wicket if you play through the line you'll get runs because wicket is fantastic, it's hard and this kind of wicket if you are top-order batsman, you'll love to be there. If we are playing a Test match, it's a paradise for batters. This is the best wicket for one-day cricket and I found as a batter if you apply yourself properly, definitely you can get more runs on this wicket."
Goswami might have felt good about her batting, but the rest of her team-mates contributed only 73 of the remaining 142 runs, with only three others reaching double-digit scores. She put down the dismissals of the other batsmen to poor shot selection.
"Our application was not up to the mark today morning from the top order, that was the main thing and the shot selection was not correct," she said. "That happens sometimes but main thing is we came back, fought back and played as a team. As a unit we performed well and definitely we'll sort out and discuss all these things and try to sort out. It happens, it's just one bad day for batters but positive thing in this match was the way we came back on such a good batting wicket. Our bowlers restricted them to below 140, so that's a good achievement for our bowlers."
She also acknowledged that there was turn for the spinners - 14 of the 18 wickets that were taken fell to spinners - but there was nothing for the medium-pacers, except for a brief period in the morning. Even though India's spinners did most of the job to defend the low score, Goswami said rotating the bowlers was crucial to defend a score like 142.
"Definitely there was turn in the wicket and there is no doubt that we have quality spinners in our side. We just thought rotating the bowlers as much as we could and try to spin the ball from the first ball itself and that's the main thing. In this kind of a low-scoring match you have to rotate your bowlers and Mithali did a fantastic job to do that. We are playing three regular spinners and two medium-pacers and that was the main plan that whatever we have in our side, we'll try to rotate them and try to bowl dot balls and take the match to the last over.
"Initially there was a little bit of wind in the morning and they used those conditions pretty well, their medium-pacers. And in the second innings, after one hour or an hour and 45 minutes, the wicket had eased out for batting."
Goswami came out at the score of 52 for 5 and helped the team add another 90 runs by pacing her innings according to the match situation. Within two overs of her stay at the wicket, the last of the top six batsmen, Veda Krishnamurthy, also returned to the pavilion after scoring 1 off 15. But that did not bog Goswami down and she later stitched the top two partnerships of the innings, with Nos. 10 and 11.
"As a senior player I tried to stay there, I tried to bat as long as I could," she said. "The plan was just to stay there and try to get more runs. When there was a loose ball, just try to use it because we knew if we were able to play 40-45 overs, maybe we would be able to score 140-150. And we have strength in our bowling and we can pull [things] back. But the main thing was to stay there."
Goswami's main role started after that - to lead the bowling attack. The No. 1 ranked bowler in ODIs opened the bowling and stifled the opponents right from the beginning, allowing only 11 runs in the first seven overs with Ekta Bisht. Goswami did not take a wicket but her frugal first spell read 5-0-12-0.
"It's important for any format that you need a good start whether you are batting or bowling," she said. "I know there was hardly any movement off the wicket, it was flat batting wicket so I just tried to hit the ball in the right areas and tried to take responsibility. We didn't go for two medium-pacers at a time, so there was a lot of variation for them…they had to think."
Vishal Dikshit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo