Pressure can make you commit tremendous mistakes. I realized this today during a match between India Women and South Africa Women. It was a very crucial situation. South Africa looked in total control earlier but somehow India brought this so close, to last over. Thanks to Harmanpreet Kaur's great efforts in fielding. It was a must-win match for India if they wanted to qualify for the semifinals, and the effect can be clearly seen on the performance of the girls. Their fielding was measurable, they fumbled, gave extra runs, overthrows, and spoiled the catches. Even big names such as Smirti Mandhana couldn't hold through. My roommate and I were screaming on the phone. Harman was quick n the field and provided important breakthroughs to the team with her bowling and fielding. The situation is as follows.
They fought hard and took the game to final overs. Deepti Sharma is to bowl the last over. Seven runs are required off six balls. The first ball goes for a single. On the second ball, they manage to get a run-out, Harman does the miracle again. Two singles come after that. Now, three runs are required from two balls, I was sure she will loft.
Let's look from du Preez's rest frame of reference. She is taking singles for a while now. On the second ball of this over, she runs her partner out searching for a double. Now the non-striker is a bowler and she knows she can't hit the ball. The only option that remains is to try to loft this ball for a six. I knew she will loft but remember the pressure was on her as well. She lofts but couldn't time it well, so finds Harman at long-on who didn't make any mistake even under pressure. I cannot control my excitement. My roommate is dancing in excitement, beating his chest and saying- 'Harman alone can fuck the win out under these situations.' But the umpire stopped du Preez from leaving. They are checking for no-ball. Deepti has overstepped, it is a no-ball. We are shocked, completely shocked.
Now, look at the situation from Deepti's rest frame. She was under serious pressure. She fumbled white bowling few times. She stopped and then bowled this one. She knew that du Preez was going to swing this one hard, she needed to prevent the boundary, she needed to get a dot. Maybe, she imagined du Preez hitting her a six and sailing the game. Her attention was on a completely different scenario, and that's when she committed the big mistake. The free hit was coming up, and the game was gone.
Let me point out first, I am not a sexist, I supported the women's WorldCup wholeheartedly as I would support men's WorldCup but I can say for sure that Indian Men's team would not lose like this. I can recall countless occasions when India pulled off such close wins. Two super-overs in New Zealand, that must-win game vs Bangladesh in World T20, and a recent one against West Indies. The recent one was just the same situation at a point. But the brilliant captaincy and fields placement didn't take the match to the last ball.