The Indian women’s team have rocked it at ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 after back-to-back wins against New Zealand and Australia in semi-finals. Although they have lost against the courageous and seasoned British team at ICC Finale, they have really won the World Cup by opening up a new era beyond the men in blue.
In India, any sport apart from men’s cricket have to struggle to get attention, perspective and celebration at national level. Sure there have been individual sportsmen from other sports who have had their time and their share of celebration, but that was partly because of an achievement at international level – the temporary fame. Anything has rarely translated to deeper interest in the sport itself, for example – Sania Mirza, she won, she was applauded but who really appreciated tennis? Have any of us got an addition of watching tennis, regardless of who is playing? No, because it was all shallow; up to such an extent that even women’s cricket was always lurking behind in background.
Most of us didn’t know who Shanta Rangaswamy or Anjum Chopra or Diana Edulji are, they were some of the ace players of women’s cricket team in World Cup 2005, but were barely noticed. But the girls in blue have caught the attention of entire nation at ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, with all their sweat and blood. Be it Harmanpreet Kaur’s spectacular batting which forced some to say that, “You could bowl her a grenade, and she’d blow you up with it”; or be it Mithali Raj’s phenomenal leadership. The girls had tough time but they gave tougher time to the New Zealand team and the Australian team at semi-finals, with their outstanding raw energy.
On Sunday’s final, Indian women’s team played against the England team but couldn’t win over the courage the gut of English team, so close to winning the World Cup. But that doesn’t matter because their victory has opened up the minds of people, compelled India to think beyond its traditional obsession with the men in blue. The women out there in the field of Lords strove, they fought, they dominated, they struggled, they lost but they made a historic venue which will be remembered through ages.
The women’s team has moved beyond the backseat, and this doesn’t seem temporary as a record of 50 million people tuned in to watch them playing against England on Sunday. That has never occurred before, they rooted interest towards women’s cricket in the hearts of traditional Indian cricket fans. And whoever has watched Harmanpreet playing at ICC 2017 will not be able to think of women’s cricket the same way again. Be it with a lost World Cup game, but this, this is the beginning of a new era beyond the men in blue.