Indian women’s cricket gained momentum in the 1970s and since then it has travelled quite a bit of a distance – from the lanes and the bylanes of the unknown Indian cities to the famous arenas of the world of cricket. Organised cricket for women in India started when the Women's Cricket Association of India (WCAI) was formed in 1973.
The all-powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) took over the reins in 2006 but not before the girls in blue had achieved the unthinkable feat of reaching the final of the 2005 Women's Cricket World Cup. Unfortunately, they lost to the mighty Australians by 98 runs, but nevertheless, they had announced their coming of age in world cricket. And since then, they have never looked back. Especially after BCCI's patronage, the girls in blue have gained wings to their aspiration and now they are ready to scale the length and the breadth of the limitless sky.
In 2017, they reached yet another World Cup final and went agonisingly close to the finishing line, but as they say, the girls snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and lost to England by just 9 runs. It was heartbreaking for the 1.3 billion people of the cricket-crazy nation. It was soul-wrenching to see the crestfallen faces of the Indian contingent who had fought bravely until then and on their way to the final had demolished dominant Australia in the semi-final.
They had also beaten teams like England, New Zealand, West Indies, Pakistan and Bangladesh convincingly in the group stages. The journey to the final was so special that it still gives me goosebumps. Let alone India, they had made the whole world their fan. Who can forget that bulldozing innings of 171 off 115 balls by Harmanpreet Kaur in the semi-final against the Aussies? It was a knockout punch that the world would never forget. That innings of Harmanpreet made every male-chauvinist cricket follower raise their eyebrows and take notice of the storm that shook the world of cricket.
They all started looking forward to women's cricket and television viewership of these matches grew by leaps and bounds. Not only the power of Harmanpreet but also the grace of the captain cool, Mithali Raj, the elegance of Smriti Mandhana, the resilience of Jhulan Goswami and the agility of Veda Krishnamurthy caught the imagination of the millions and forced them to glue to the television sets and follow these delicate yet brave-hearted warriors with passion. I am one of them.
It has been a bumpy ride for the girls in blue since 2017. They have seen the highs of reaching the T20 World Cup final in Australia in 2020 and lows of losing many bilateral series to the stronger opponents. But what they have achieved in the process are very vital. They have empowered the women in India and instilled a lot of self-belief that they can beat the world-beaters. They have also emancipated our society from the parochial thoughts that ‘women-cannot-do-this.’
Hey Friends, the girls are in Kiwiland and looking to secure a place in the semi-final of the World Cup 2022. The group has added a few new weaponries in the form of Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia and Sneh Rana and they also have the upgraded versions of Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Pooja Vastrakar in addition to the ageless Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami; star players like Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana. Their match against the in-form South African team on Sunday, 27 March 2022 in Christchurch is a must-win one… it’s like a quarter-final. Give them a big round of applause and bolster their morale. They can do it. Jai Hind.
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