India veterans Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami stay coy on retirement plans as they take positives from CWC22 campaign
A last-ball thriller against South Africa saw India’s campaign come to a dramatic early end, with defeat consigning them to fifth place in the standings, with West Indies going through at their expense.
And a shellshocked Raj was keen to look for positives from a heart-breaking situation for her squad.
“Honestly, right now I don't have any emotions, I'm just trying to get the hang of how the match has gone, preparing myself to answer your questions,” Raj said in the post-match press conference. “Probably it will hit me maybe tomorrow, because at some point we'll have to deal with the disappointment, it's a process – it will take time.
“It was a good game overall, if we have to judge it from the crowd, from people who watched, the viewers and for the sport. But yes for the Indian team it's the end of the road in the tournament.
“A lot of good things have come out of the tournament like we've got Yastika [Bhatia], Shafali [Verma] started to score runs. The spinners have done well. There will be areas that as a team we need to work on moving forward. But overall, I think we could have done better. We could have done better in the initial phases of the tournament.”
There were plenty of rumours circulating that defeat would prompt the international retirement of 39-year-old Raj, but the captain opted against making such an announcement in the aftermath of the game.
“I think you’ve not even given even an hour to think about my future, to go through and process what has just happened today,” she said.
“I've not really planned much about the future, as I said - for us as players as athletes when you have a disappointment like this in a World Cup where you’ve really prepared very hard over a year, it takes time for players to sort of accept and then probably move on from there. So, as I mentioned, I've not really thought about the future."
When pressed on the issue, Raj again said that she needed time.
“Well, as I said before, it will not be appropriate for me to comment anything on that, considering the sort of game that we just played. As I said, the emotions are still there. So it needs to settle down before I can sort of have clarity on that and give an answer to that.
“These girls will definitely play a good standard of cricket in the coming years.
“And the way they get the exposure of playing in different leagues and playing regularly with the best of the best in the world, I'm sure the team will shape up well for the future tournaments.
“But right now, I think as players we need some time to sort of process that the campaign has ended for the Indian team in the World Cup.”
Goswami, also 39, didn’t announce her retirement either after a game which she was forced to watch from the sidelines after picking up an injury.
“Certain things are not in our control and you can’t do anything about injuries,” she told the ICC.
“You prepare so well, you are working well as a team and an individual. It’s heart-breaking.
“But the other players I think it was an exceptional game that they played, they fought to the last ball.”
Mignon du Preez, who hit the runs that knocked India out of the tournament, was asked to reflect on the careers of the veteran Indian pair.
And the South African was full of admiration for the impact and influence that Raj and Goswami have had on international cricket.
“I'm quite sad for them because I mean they've both had splendid careers, and I feel like they deserve probably to finish on a high and it's not the nicest thing if you don't make it through to the semi-finals,” she said.
“But I think both of them have been such good role models for the women's game and I think they can walk away with their heads held high knowing that they made a difference in women's cricket.
“I just want to wish them all the best for their future endeavours. They've definitely put women’s cricket on the map and thank you for that.”
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