We have won all our matches and that feels great but there is no point winning all the league matches if you lose the final – for then you’ve lost the Asia Cup. So we have to maintain our focus till the end.
What has been satisfying is that the girls who are making their debuts are performing really well and that shows that our standard is higher than the other sides. Pujare Seema, who is the tournament’s highest wicket-taker with 11 from four games, has been impressive. She has the slow loop of an offspinner and on a turning wicket she can give a lot of problems. With Jhulan Goswami getting 100 wickets, we now have two players – the other being Neetu David – in the side who have reached the landmark. Now I’m looking forward to other bowlers getting to that milestone – Rumeli Dhar and Amita Sharma.
I have had a good tournament as a batsman as well. At the international level, most bowlers don’t give you enough width to play your stroke. Most teams rely on stump-to-stump bowling so when they don’t give you any loose balls, you have to convert good balls in to run-scoring ones and at times play the ball on its merit. I wouldn’t say it was tough to score but it wasn’t easy either. Sri Lanka are a very good fielding side. And Bangladesh, who are playing at this level for the first time, have a very disciplined bowling attack. They have to improve in a lot of areas but they are very good for a side playing at this level for the first time. Salma Khatun, the Bangladesh captain, is a very good batsman and bowler.
The week has been really tiring mostly because the Welagedara Stadium is two hours away from the team hotel, which means we have to set out for a 10AM match at 6.30AM! And by the time we get back it is 8PM. Most of the girls just catch up on sleep during the bus drive and no one really has the energy to celebrate our wins.
There have hardly been any spectators at the matches – in Dambulla I think the Sri Lankan players’ families and friends showed up but at Welagedara, where Sri Lanka played their second leg of matches, I had expected a lot more people to come and watch because one side of the ground faces the road and people can just walk in. The only spectators were kids bunking school and college. A little bit of the footage from the matches is shown during the local news hour.