Bengal right-arm medium-pacer Jhulan Goswami has been made captain of the India women's team for the tour of Australia starting later this month. Jhulan succeeded Hyderabad batswoman Mithali Raj. Jhulan's statemate Rumeli Dhar will be the vice-captain.
Mithali, however, continues to be in the 15-member squad that will play one Twenty20 international on October 28 and five One-day Internationals (October 31 to November 9) in Sydney and Canberra.
Jhulan, winner of the ICC Women's Cricketer of the Year Award in 2007, was engrossed in the Durga Puja festivities when she was told of being named the captain. "It is a great honour and am very excited to lead the country," Jhulan told HT from Kolkata. "I am ready for the job and looking forward to playing in Australia."
It came as a surprise that Mithali was removed from captaincy, especially since she has been a consistent performer despite shouldering the responsibility of leading the side since the 2005 World Cup in South Africa.
"I don't know what to say," was Mithali's first reaction. "But I am not too disturbed. As a player, I will still go out and perform like I did when I was captain. I had my ups and downs as captain."
Mithali, 25, said not being captain didn't make much of a difference. "I knew some day I had to pass on the mantle. I was not ambitious about keeping the captaincy for long. The main thing is to perform as a player. Captaincy comes and goes," she said.
Mithali had a disastrous tour of England as a captain, losing four ODIs. But she topped the batting averages with two half-centuries.
"England was miserable and that's the reason I think the selectors chose to name another captain," she felt.
"Jhulan is good," Mithali observed. "Her captaincy might give the team a much-needed boost, with the World Cup round the corner," she said.
The 24-year-old Bengali, too, had a pathetic tour of England. She picked up only one wicket. "I felt bad about the trip. It was the first time in my international career that I finished a series with only one scalp. I have to work on my bowling and fitness. Except Mithali, none of the others played good cricket. Hopefully, we will improve in Australia. Each and every member wants to do well," said Jhulan.
Jhulan has been captaining Bengal in the national competition and was India Seniors captain in the Challengers that ended in Ahmedabad on Sunday. Her team missed out on a finals berth.
The national selection committee, chaired by Sandhya Agarwal (central) and comprising Reshma Gandhi (North), Poornima Rao (South), Mithu Mukherjee (East) and Vrinda Bhagat (West) met here on Monday to name the squad. They recalled former captain and Delhi's senior batswoman, Anjum Chopra, who last played for the country in early 2007 in the quadrangular tournament in Chennai.