Anisa Mohammed: 'At no point I thought West Indies would lose'

Offspinner backs West Indies to run for World Cup title after winning "two games against top teams"

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
A jubilant Anisa Mohammed is unstoppable, England v West Indies, Women's World Cup, Dunedin, March 9, 2022

Anisa Mohammed ran Kate Cross out before bowling Anya Shrubsole in the last over  •  Getty Images

When Anisa Mohammed took the ball to deliver the 48th over in England's chase in their World Cup game against West Indies, she knew her team was going to win. West Indies had just eight runs to defend, and England's ninth-wicket pair had already plundered 61 runs, but Mohammed, West Indies most expensive frontline bowler on the day, knew she could do it.
"I said to myself [that] I am a game changer. I am not going to leave it up to anyone else," Mohammed said after West Indies eventually edged England by seven runs. "I just need six balls. And of those six balls, I just need two to be good. I just had to keep believing in myself, and I had to calm myself and just say one ball at a time, and I was able to get the job done."
As it turned out, she only needed four balls, and arguably, just one of them was really good: the delivery that Mohammed bowled full even as Anya Shrubsole went down the pitch. "I just told myself that I am going to bowl straight and she is going to miss. She's tall and she's going to miss." And miss she did.
Shrubsole yorked herself to give West Indies a second successive win in the tournament after Mohammed had also ran Kate Cross out at the non-striker's end off the first ball. That dismissal came as a stroke of good fortune, as Mohammed stretched her right hand out in her follow-through to meet Sophie Ecclestone's thunderbolt, and the ball ricocheted onto the stumps after brushing her fingers.
Cross was backing up too far, as is often the case with batters looking to steal quick singles, but Mohammed's quick reflexes underpinned her sense of belief that even if West Indies looked down, they were never out.
"At no point did I think we were going to lose this game," she said. "We knew we just needed one wicket or just keep building pressure. We kept saying every dot ball counts, and once we got one wicket, we were going to win this game."
That sense of belief has been a signature of West Indies in their two victories so far. In the first match, Deandra Dottin defended five runs off the last over, having not bowled in international cricket since September. This is after implored her captain to be given the ball. Self-belief like that, Mohammed thinks, can could see West Indies take down a few more big names and even challenge for the title.
"It's one of the goals I set out when I was very young, and I am so close"
Anisa Mohammed is just three short of becoming the second-highest wicket-taker in women's ODIs
"We have quite a lot of game changers, and this time around, we have quite a lot of players who believe in themselves," she said. "And as a team, we believe in each other. To win two games against top teams in the tournament is definitely a motivation for us. It gives us that confidence that we can defeat the top teams. Then once we play our best game, we can win this tournament.
"A lot of teams count us as underdogs, and we have not been playing a lot of good ODI cricket lately. But we have nothing to lose. We have quite a lot of teams to surprise in this tournament."
Dottin was part of another game-changing moment when she leapt through the air at point to take a one-handed catch that dismissed Lauren Winfield-Hill. Mohammed, who had the "best seat in the house to see that", said it speaks of Dottin's commitment to contribute in all departments.
"She sets a very high standard for herself in whatever aspect of the game she plays," Mohammed said. "It was a spectacular catch, and I know we will continue to get more from Deandra."
But that is not the only player Mohammed thinks has more to offer more from. Her highest expectations are from herself, especially now that she lies just three wickets away from becoming the second-highest ODI wicket-taker of all time.
"It's one of the goals I set out when I was very young, and I am so close," she said. "I am really excited."
So much so that she is memorialising her success. After West Indies' warm-up match against India, Mohammed took a picture of herself with Jhulan Goswami and Mithali Raj to stand as a symbol of excellence in the women's game.
"Jhulan has the most ODI wickets, Mithali has the most runs and I am the highest [wicket-taking] spinner. I wanted to get a photo with the top players in the different categories in ODIs," she said.
Mohammed's recent form is even more special to her because it comes after her career seemed headed for a premature end when she was dropped from the West Indies side to tour England in 2019. The preceding two years had been her leanest - she only played 11 ODIs in 2018 and 2019 combined, and took six wickets at 55.33 before a resurgence in 2021.
She has since played 16 matches and claimed 26 wickets at 19.88, and has more in her sight.
"I know I am a big player. Every player has a rough patch, and that was my rough patch," she said. "Once I got back in, it was a matter of staying in the XI and contributing, and being able to win matches.
"It was difficult but I am happy I am here and contributing. At the end of the day, it comes down to you and how you cope with pressure. As a player, I talk to myself a lot so it was just a matter of staying focused and believing in myself."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent