BY MAHADEV DESAI
At times, game of cricket can be heartbreaking. Cricket loving fans of Indian Women’s Cricket Team experienced that when Indian team lost the nail-biting ICC Women’s World Cup Final at packed iconic Lords ground(home of cricket),watched by over 27,000 cricket-lovers on July 23,2017,by mere 9 runs and with eight balls to spare. The energy, excitement and fan support was incredible! It may be noted that in the opening pool match on June 24, India had won against England by 35 runs!
The 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup was an international women’s cricket tournament that took place in England from 24 June to 23 July 2017. Eight teams qualified to participate in the tournament;viz.,Australia,England,Newzealand,West Indies, India, South Africa,Sri Lanka and Pakistan. India played against all the seven teams, won against five teams but lost to South Africa and Australia, but made it to the historic Final against England.
England won the toss and batted first. Winfield and Beaumont put on 47, when Winfield got out. Beaumont followed soon after and Knight was trapped leg before by Poonam. It was 63/3 but Taylor and Sciver steadied the innings carrying the score to 146 when Taylor was caught. Wilson was out for a duck, and then Sciver, who was the top scorer with 51 fell to Goswami. Tail-enders Brunt, Gunn and Marsh chipped in with 34, 25 and 14 respectively taking England to a formidable score of 228.
India got off to a poor start losing opener Mandhana for a zero. And soon, India’s skipper Mithali Raj was run out for a paltry 17.At 43/2, Kaur joined Raut and they carried the score to 138 when Kaur was out after scoring 51.Raut and Krishnamurthy cruised along to 191 and victory seemed near for India. India needed only 28 off seven overs and with seven wickets in hand! But after Raut was out leg before, after a breezy 86, India collapsed against superb bowling spell of Shrubsole.She removed Krishnamurthy; Sharma and Goswami-3 wickets for 3 runs from 8 balls! Pandey got run out and even though an easy catch of Poonam was dropped by Gunn, Shrubsole knocked off Gayakwad’s off stump to clinch the prized World Cup for England.
Still in this narrow defeat, there is a silver lining. Mithali Raj commented, “Thank you to the crowd for turning up for a women’s cricket final. This is a huge boost for all the women cricketers. I’m sure this experience will help the players. Now, people back home will have a different perspective about women’s cricket. It is beginning of good time for women’s cricket.The team deserved every bit of accolades.If more matches ate televised the game will attract more people. India and other teams have put up good standard of cricket in World Cup and it has given impetus to women’s cricket globally,it has given us more positive feedback”
India Women’s team can consider itself a powerhouse in cricket. With this World Cup, Women’s Cricket has definitely turned a corner in India. It has infused cricket fans in India and abroad with euphoric optimism about Indian women’s cricket. Though India lost the Finals today by 9 runs, Indian players have definitely made a mark. Mithali Raj was the second highest scorer with 392 runs. In bowling, Deepti Sharma was 4th with 12 wkts.for 331 runs, and Poonam Yadav was 10th best with 9 wkts.for 250 runs. Harmanpreet Kaur was second highest individual scorer with 171 runs, Mithali Raj 8th with 109 runs and Smriti Mandhana was 10th with 106 runs.
India’s Prime Minister Modi tweeted,” Our women cricketers gave their best today. They have shown remarkable tenacity and skill through the World Cup. Very proud of the team!
Mithali Raj rightly said that it is worth considering starting Women’s IPL.” If you ask me they should have IPL because now is the right time to create that base”. The league matches can help give experience of playing big matches under pressure.
India must start preparing in earnest for the next World Cup in Cricket. With proper facilities, coaching, hard work, impartial selection, encouragement and financial support from sponsors, and national pride, India Women’s Team can definitely bring home the World Cup!