When they took off from India, few would have thought this eager lot of some powerful women will make such a commanding impact in a male sport cultured country.
Mithali Raj and her counterparts are down the road to glory, the 32 year old will be leading the women in blue into a final for the second time having guided them to a final showdown before at the 2005 ICC women’s World Cup. Twelve years ago, it was Australia then which came haunting the title dream of Indians defeating them brutally in a one sided affair at Centurion.
Back to 2017, the energy was no different when the Mithali led her side against the Aussies in the World Cup semifinals, once again it was a big game a win will earn the team a place in the finals, dreams of the 15 women carrying an immense burden of the future of women’s cricket in the country will be realized. Yes it indeed turned out to be a big day; one name came out buzzing once the semifinal was concluded. Harmanpreet Kaur was the trending talk, social media flooded with appreciation for the girl who single-handedly thrashed Australia out of the way. 175 was a special number not because it gave India an edge over their rivals, rather the number became iconic for the girl who was an unidentified talent before it graced her bat. India had completed a 12 year old revenge; Australians fell short of 36 odd runs and were out. Aussies were defeated with might and the might came from utter determination of the girls who donned the blue jersey with pride and played their hearts out, they knew they had to win.
Next at Lord’s, for team India is England the lions in their own territory. India on their big day will rely on their old school veterans, Jhulan Goswami and Mithali Raj who are the only two left in the line up to have played in a World Cup final before.
England have had no different story in the tournament, they managed a last over nervy win against South Africa to sail into the finals. Having already battled India once in the competition, the hosts were handed a 35 run defeat. The defeat though didn’t put the English women aback; it actually turned to be a morale booster for them, learning from the loss they put down seven worthy opponents in a row to earn a deserving final spot.
Lord’s has a history Indians cherish till date, it was Kapil Dev who brought home our first cricketing glory in 1983 bowling out a dominant West Indies 44 runs short of the final target at this same legendary ground. Lord’s witnessed the then Indian captain Kapil Dev announcing India as a cricketing power house to the world. Years later, Dada fired India home with the NatWest triangular series when India came from behind to beat a remarkable England. The same Lord’s balcony had a proud Saurav Ganguly this time waiving his shirt in galore.
Cricket in the country has come a long way since then. A new leader took charge in 2007 and produced one of the best phases of Indian cricket, Dhoni has become an emotion. The former skipper won every ICC trophy to be won and left a legacy of his own when he hit the final six at the Wankhede to rewind 1983. After 28 years of eager wait world cup was back in the subcontinent in 2011.
Down to 2017, it’s Mithali Raj in spotlight, she has come a long way featuring in the highs and lows of the Indian women’s cricket. A final foot away from the pinnacle of glory she can be the next Indian captain raising a trophy in that historic Lord’s balcony.
India: Mithali Raj (captain), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Mona Meshram, Shikha Pandey, Poonam, Nuzhat Parween, Poonam Raut, Deepti Sharma and Sushma Verma
England: Heather Knight (captain), Tamsin Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Beth Langston, Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield and Danielle Wyatt