A dream shattered but hopes rekindle

A late collapse may have deprived Mithali Raj’s side from their first-ever Women’s World Cup, an overall successful tournament for Women in Blue marks the rise of Women’s Cricket in the country

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Vikrant Jha

Needing just 229 to lift their first ever World Cup, India Women’s were riding along nicely at one stage when the scoreboard read 191/3. India just needed 38 runs to win with opener Punam Raut batting on 86 and finisher Veda Krishnamurthy batting on 28. It was all about battling nerves with India marching close but on the fifth ball of the 43rd over, Anya Surubsole dismissed Raut and that marked the beginning of a collapse that deprived the Mithali Raj-led side of their first ever glory.

India lost wicket-keeper Sushma Verma and veteran bowler Jhulan Goswami for a nought and the rest, including Krishnamurthy (35), followed as India bundled out for 219, losing the World Cup to England by a margin as small as nine runs.

English Captain Heather Knight won the toss and elected to bat in the final and at one point, English Women looked like putting up an above-par total at the iconic Lords. England was coasting along through the starts from Lauren Winfield (24), player-of-the-tournament Tammy Beaumont (23) and wicket-keeper Sarah Taylor (45) and a half-century from Natalie Sciver (51) before veteran Goswami brought India back with wickets of consecutive deliveries in the 33rd over. Dismissing dangerous Sarah Taylor and Fran Wilson on the fourth and the fifth ball of the over, Goswami brought India roaring back into the game. Contributions from the lower order, Katherine Brunt (34), Jenny Gunn (25 not-out) and Laura Marsh (14 not out), propelled England to 228-7 in the allotted 50 overs. Jhulan Goswami picked up three wickets for India while Punam Yadav picked up two.

India’s chase was marred in the very second over when opener Mandhana, yet again, failed and was dismissed without scoring a run. Punam Raut and skipper Mithali Raj started rebuilding but a lazy run cost Raj her wicket when she was run-out on 17. With the young sensation and the ever-dependable skipper already back in the hut, the onus shifted on the hero of the semi-final, Harmanpreet Kaur. Kaur brought in the confidence from the last outing to score yet another half-century but holed out in the deep and was dismissed on 51 off 80. Veda Krishnamurthy joined Raut and they added 53 runs before Raut was dismissed and India’s fall began. Anya Shurubsole picked up six wickets for England was adjudged the player of the match for her match-winning performance.

India Women’s lost the match, and eventually the World Cup, by just nine runs but non-complaining fans who came out of the jam-packed Lords, or at various places in India where the news channels were eagerly waiting for an India win, were proof of India women’s success and popularity. Raj had led her team to a World Cup final in 2005 as well, where they had lost to Australia, but not many got to know about the feat then.

With the extended media-coverage and live broadcasts, India Women have proved their mettle at the World level and 2017 World Cup marks the rise of Women’s cricket in the country.

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Published: 24 Jul 2017, 10:14 AM