Indian women’s cricket team defeated Australia by 36 runs in a rain-curtailed semi-final at Derby. And now on Sunday, Mithali Raj-led team will face host England for the coveted prize. India have never won a Women’s World Cup. In 2005 they made their first final, losing to Australia. Now they have another chance to emulate Indian men who achieved the same glory at the very same venue.
Cricket gripped India in 1983 when Kapil Dev-led side was crowned as World Champions. The then minnow, who had done little in the previous World Cup editions to inspire confidence from the supporter, beat West Indies, the greatest team at that time. And suddenly, India witnessed a revolution. A metamorphosis that spiralled the sale of cricketing kits at the local stores.
Post-1983, fans had only passing interest in cricket. And then, the World Cup happened. The subsequent edition of the tournament in 1987 was hosted in India along with Pakistan. Such was the craze for the game in the country which now has two World Cup titles.
Cut to 2017 and just imagine the following. Indian women’s cricket team has reached the finals by defeating the defending champions Australia. India lost to Australia in the final of the 2005 World Cup played at South Africa, but back then, matches were not televised, and the media attention was far lesser than what it is now.
In many ways, this was a stinging reminder to the patriarchal society we live in. Women’s cricket is still in the shadow of men’s cricket. But if they win, you can expect the resurgence of a team no longer adjuncts to men. Indian cricket, after thirty-four years, may once again spark a new revolution. Interestingly, there are few similarities between 1983 and 2017 World Cups. During the group stage, there were two crushing defeats Kapil’s men against Australia and West Indies, similar to Indian women’s defeats came at the hands of South Africa and Australia in 2017. They lost two of their seven games, and notably trounced rivals Pakistan by 95 runs. However, India’s greatest victory came against New Zealand in the knockout game, which they won by 186 runs.
Now when country’s women have finally brought a breakaway in 2017, they need your support more than ever. So, who will you have your eyes on? On Mandhana, who reminds us of Adam Gilchrist’s drives, or Raut, who averages 40 in the tournament? Or Bisht, whose fifer thrashed Pakistan? Or will you cheer your heart out for Jhulan Goswami and Mithali Raj – the two cornerstones of Indian Cricket playing their last World Cup? Again, do you really want to miss a possible revolution in Indian Cricket?