It isn’t very often that I not only avidly follow a cricket tournament from the start to the very end but also get immensely, emotionally attached to a favourite team – probably because it is an incredible feeling to have watched them go up to the Final in a coveted championship. The ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 was historic in more ways than one.
For one, the Round Robin format ensured that we got to watch seven matches by each team before the knockout stage. India got off to a great start against England and went on to win the next three matches as well. The first disappointment came against South Africa, but there still remained two matches. The loss against Australia made India’s seventh match a virtual quarterfinal – a do or die situation against New Zealand. At this stage, captain Mithali Raj became the highest run getter in women’s ODIs and also became the first woman to cross the 6000 runs mark. So it was something to take pride in that both Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami (the highest wicket taker in women’s ODIs) were currently playing for India. And along with a number of talented youngsters including Deepti Sharma, Smriti Mandhana and many others, India seemed to be confident of a comeback. After a great win against New Zealand, they did seal a spot in the semifinals.
And then, the much awaited semifinal that would be talked about for years to come and one which I consider myself very lucky to have witnessed- India vs Australia. After losing a few early wickets, came one of the best innings in the history of cricket – Harmanpreet Kaur’s knock of 171* off 115 balls. And what an innings that was! 20 fours, 7 sixes and India put up a staggering total of 281 in 42 overs that eventually led them to a 36 run victory over the defending champions, sending them to the dream final at Lord’s – The Home of Cricket.
The Final. 23rd July 2017. Lord’s Cricket Ground. In a historic final in a packed stadium, India began it’s quest with a spectacular bowling spell including a 3 wicket haul from Jhulan Goswami, limiting the hosts England to 228/7. And then followed what would turn out to be a nerve-wracking chase. Despite Punam Raut’s valiant 86 and Harmanpreet Kaur’s much needed 51, India fell just 9 runs short of the target. Such a closely contested final!
So amidst the multiple records set, histories made and new heights achieved; between the ups and downs in the most thrilling of matches and the nail biting moments in a whirlwind of emotions; during exhilarating wins and heartbreaking losses – this team has sure won many a hearts.
Hats off to the Women in Blue!
(Photo courtesy: ddnews.gov.in)