WWC: India failed to win yet individual talents sparkle in England
While India failed to lift their first ever World Cup, Indian players individually put up some record-shattering performances throughout
At the ‘home of cricket’, Lords, India Women lost to England by nine runs after a collapse where India lost seven wickets for just 28 runs. India looked set to lift the trophy when they were well-ahead at 191/3 but Anya Shurubsole inspired an England come-back picking up six wickets and bundling India out for 219 with eight balls to spare.
The tournament, however, was utilised by some Indian players to make a mark for themselves and, hence, for women’s cricket in the country.
Mithali Raj- Captain consistent
Key contributions: 109 off 123 against New Zealand (league match), 69 off 114 against Australia (league match)
The most consistent performer for the Indian side was their skipper, Mithali Raj. Raj, who broke the record for the most number of runs in women’s cricket history and became the first batter to score in abundance of 6000 runs, finished second on the chart of highest run-getters in the tournament. Raj finished the tournament with 409 runs, just one short of Tammy Beaumont’s 410.
In the must-win match against New Zealand, skipper led the way with a well-controlled century (109) and the highest run-getter in women’s cricket history also scored three half-centuries leading India to the finals from the front. Raj scored a total of 36 boundaries and was India’s leading boundary scorer in the tournament.
Harmanpreet Kaur- Punjab power
Key contributions: 171 off 115 against Australia (semi-final), 51 off 80 against England (finals), 60 off 90 against New Zealand (league match)
After losing consecutive matches to South Africa and Austrlia, India needed a win against New Zealand in their last league encounter to progress into the semi-final. Harmanpreet Kaur, the vice-captain and one of the senior most batters, wasn’t looking in the best of form coming to the match. She took her time and scored a composed 60 off 90 balls and along with Veda Krishnamurthy, who hammered 70 off just 45, provided India with the finishing touches after Captain Mithali Raj’s 109 to propel India to a massive 186-run victory.
Although a well-composed inning, Kaur hadn’t played to her true potential in the match against New Zealand and she made up for it in the semi-final against Australia. India was reeling at one stage with Smriti Mandhana, Punam Raut and Raj back in the pavilion when Kaur decided to take the attack on to the opposition. A carnage of 171 runs off just 115 balls made her the new poster girl of Indian cricket and helped India progress to the finals after comprehensively defeating Australia by 36-runs. In the final against England, Kaur backed it up with another fifty (51 off 80) but failed to take India home. Harmanpreet hit a total of 11 sixes in the tournament, just one short of Lizelle Lee of South Africa who finished at the top position with 12 sixes.
Mandhana- the starter
Key contributions: 90 off 72 against England (league match), 106 off 115 against West Indies (league match)
The Maharashtra-born Indian Opener produced a couple of blistering knocks in the first two games for India where she outplayed England with a blistering 90 off just 72, followed by an unbeaten 106 against West Indies. Mandhana failed afterwards and couldn’t contribute much but she had set the tempo of the tournament for the Indian side. India, who played as the underdogs against England in the first encounter, were suddenly termed favourites after Mandhana blitz helped them defeat the hosts by 35 runs.
Punam Raut- the silent crusader
Key contributions: 106 off 136 against Australia (league match), 86 off 115 against England (finals)
Punam Raut’s tournament, just like Mandhana, started with a half-century against England in the opening fixture. Raut scored 86 and silently added to the pressure created by Smriti Mandhana in the match without getting much of the lime-light. In the next outing against West Indies, she was out without scoring but made a come-back against Pakistan scoring 47. After getting starts in a few matches afterwards, Raut failed to convert them into big scores. However, when the day arrived when it mattered the most, Raut held India’s inning from one side and scored a sensible and classy 86 and kept India’s hopes alive until she was batting. Co-incidentally, Raut’s wicket in the 43rd over became the turning point of the match as India lost their next six batters adding just 28 runs to the tally after Raut’s dismissal.
Ekta Bisht and Rajeshwari Gayakwad: took turns to turn it for india
Key Contribution: Ekta Bisht 10-2-18-5 against Pakistan, Gayakwad 7.3-1-15-5 against New Zealand
In the must win encounter against New Zealand, Indian batters provided India with 265 runs on the scoreboard. The job needed to be completed by the bowlers if India had to progress and Rajeshwari Gayakwad spun a web around New Zealand batswomen to bundle them out for mere 79. India progressed to the semi-final with a thumping 186-run victory and Gayakwad, with her figures of five for 15, became the protagonist of the Indian bowling on that day.
Against Pakistan, when the batters let India down to a paltry total of 169, Ekta Bisht won the match for India with world-record figures of five for 18. Pakistani batswomen had no answers for the spinning questions that Bisht asked and they were eventually bowled out for 74, losing the match to India by 95 runs. Bisht’s record was later broken by gayakwad against New Zealand. Anya Shurubsole displaced Gayakwad from the first position with figures of 6-46 in the final but the Indian spinners, definitely, made a mark for themselves.
The performance by the Women’s team can be best reflected in what skipper Mithali Raj said after the defeat, “I want to tell my girls that I am very proud of them. They didn't make it easy for any of the teams.”
- Mithali Raj
- Smriti Mandhana
- Harmanpreet Kaur
- Ekta Bisht
- Punam raut
- ICC Women's World Cup
- Rajeshwari Gayakwad