When India took on home favourites England in their opening match of the ICC Women’s World Cup about a month ago, they had come into the tournament on a winning note. Not only had they won their last four ODI series, they had defeated South Africa in the final of the qualifier and the quadrangular series. But, captain Mithali Raj had remained cautious. “We need to start fresh again in the World Cup,” she had said.
Cut the scene to a month later and India women are on the verge of making history. The India team’s run at the World Cup has been terrific, until the very end. They’ve reached the final for the second time, which was quite a feat considering how strong the other teams are. They’ve beaten tough teams like Australia and New Zealand en route while specific members have gone on to make impressive records.
Each player’s career in the Indian women’s cricket team is an inspirational story in herself, but it took a mammoth effort from Harmanpreet Kaur in the semifinals, against defending champions Australia, for the Indian cricket fan to stand up and cheer for the Women in Blue. The last and the only time the Indian women made an appearance in the final was way back in 2005, when Facebook was still an infant and Twitter was still being conceptualized. Hence, there was restricted buildup to the final. Mithali Raj led her band of feisty girls on to the ground at Lord’s, and will always be cheered by a nation which is already hailing the team as heroes.
On the England team that fought back after a loss to India, Anjum Chopra, former India skipper and member of the 2005 team said: “Past does not matter. After the loss to India they have come back stronger in each match. They have beaten teams with spirit and conviction. When they beat South Africa, they had more than 300 runs on the board. There is no way one can take any opposition lightly.”
They may not have won the trophy, but they have definitely won our hearts!