Little did we know that Deepti would play a bigger role in Goswami’s swan song than we could have ever imagined.
When Deepti, who had gone half a century unbeaten to lead his side to a respectable 29-for-4 aggregate, wore Charlie Dean down while falling back on the last ball of the game to seal victory for India and an ODI series 3-0 sweep, it ensured that Goswami’s farewell would be spoken of for reasons other than a sport’s farewell to a champion.
As she walked through this initial honor guard, Goswami modestly waved at them in appreciation, enjoying the moment. Whether it ended with his first ball dropping trying to lead to a fuller delivery that came back from 17-year-old seamstress Freya Kemp – who was not born when Goswami made his international debut – had no so important in the context of his farewell. Goswami’s stick was not what people had come to see.
That might well have mattered in the context of a round where she was one of five Indian players to go without scoring, despite managing to reach 169 before being knocked out in 46th place. And again when Dean led England to within 17 runs of his target with a brilliant 47 at bat at No.9.
Goswami came out to cross another guard of honor from her own team, which followed her almost to the pitch.
Her first lesson was a young girl, then as Goswami knelt down to tie her shoelaces at the end of her second, Harmanpreet Kaur, the Indian captain who made her debut when Goswami was in her place in 2009, kept running by and patting her on the back. It was as if Harmanpreet wanted to cherish their closeness as long as it lasted.
Hamanpreet had stood nearby as Goswami contested the draw and wrapped his former skipper in a tearful embrace during the team’s pre-match presentation to their loyal lover.
The only time Goswami was alone was when she was patrolling along the deep rear square leg border. Even as she stood atop her mark, all eyes were on her.
Those eyes turned to the arms of her teammates and the delightful voices of the crowd of 15,187 when Goswami simply had Alice Capsey grabbed by Harleen Deol at cover point.
“Goswami retired Cross playing a full and straight game and a boyish smile broke across her 39-year-old features as she was mobbed by her teammates”
Ultimately, this became a shared storyline by Cross and Goswami with Renuka – playing his seventh ODI at the age of 26 – providing an epilogue that hinted at the next edition before this final moment opened up a new chapter.
After missing out on selection in England’s 2017 World Cup squad and sitting in the stands as the hosts beat India in a thriller – the last time Lord’s staged a women’s international – this day also meant a lot to Cross.
She was 3 for 3 in 3.2 overs at one point and represented India’s top four. It was reminiscent of Cross’ breakthrough performance against the same opponent at Taunton in June last year. On this occasion, however, Cross sealed his five for a winning cause. This time, as the England batter missed, it looked like India Day.
Goswami took a weak slipping hold to eliminate Rajeshwari Gayakwad’s Sophie Ecclestone as England slipped to 53 for 6 and, with the hosts battling wildly at 111 for 8, Harmanpreet brought Goswami back in attack for his eighth most , of which she conceded two short.
A maiden followed, then, with just five balls to go in a stellar international career, she retired Cross playing a full line – Goswami’s 10,001st ODI delivery – and a boyish grin broke out on the 39-year-old’s Goswami. old features as she was mobbed by her teammates.
Surrounded again at the end of the plus, completed with four point balls, it was over – almost. At Deepti’s very next ball, Goswami got his hands dirty slipping Dean, but what would have been the last wicket to fall and a fairy tale finish slipped through his fingers.
By then England still needed 52 runs from 13.5 overs with just one wicket in hand and it looked as if India – even with Goswami knocked out – had everything to win.
Then Dean and Freya Davies dug in for 35 points and the game got tense. It is therefore with a degree of disbelief that much of the way it ended will be remembered. Dean’s dismissal was fair game, but that meant it ended amid a cacophony of boos and cheers.
A devastated Dean threw her bat to the ground, tears streaming down her face before pulling herself together and walking towards the Indian group to shake their hands. Moments later, Goswami was chaired to the edge of the pitch to embark on a lap of honor carrying the Indian flag and flanked by her teammates in a moment of sweet celebration that couldn’t completely mask a slightly bitter undertone.
Valkerie Baynes is an editor at ESPNcricinfo