The Rise of Women in Blue

India, a place where cricket has been bossing the sports and entertainment sector over the years. No wonder why most of the people treat cricket as a heavenly sport and cricketers as God. Adding to that, we are not so far away from witnessing the goddesses. While few are already being treated as such, some of them are in making. Creating history is not at all a tough task for women as we have seen them dominate in every sector, be it sports or any other profession.

Women in blue are no exception. It all started in 1978 when Indian women played their maiden World Cup in India, but couldn’t move into the semis. This repeated in 1982 and 1993 as well. The year was 1997 when Indian women played their first ever semi Final with Australia and lost by 19 runs. They came back with the same confidence in the 2000 world cup hosted by New Zealand, they faced the hosts in the semi final only to give them a 9 wicket victory. 

It got even better for women in blue in 2005 in the grand event hosted by South Africa. Heroics from Mithali Raj (91*)and Amita Sharma (3/24) helped India reach the final after a thumping victory over New Zealand in the semi final. India faced their toughest rival in the first ever final which they lost by 90 runs. In 2009 and 2013, India failed to move into the playoffs with under par performances. 

The Women’s world cup in 2017 was hosted by England. The Indian team went on to achieve new heights in their cricketing history. They won 5 games out of 7 in the group stage and made it into the semis to face Australia. A remarkable show against Australia booked them a spot in the final. Courtesy, Harmanpreet Kaur’s free flowing 171 against tough Aussie bowlers made the day memorable one.

It was India’s second appearance in the world cup final. They were up against England as the final frontier was separating them from their maiden title. India managed to restrict England to 228 runs with Jhulan Goswaami (3 wkts) being too good to deliver on a big day along with Poonam Yadav (2 wkts), the finest leggie having done her part. In the chase, everyone expected India to deliver much better than they actually did. It was a heartbreak as they fell short of the target by 9 runs.

Key performers in the Indian team

The greatest find for Indian women cricket is Shafali Varma. The 17 year old young girl has made a big difference to the team. She has been phenomenal in T20 cricket, having played 25 games with 665 runs and strikes at 145. Although she made her  debut in the 50 over format very recently in the England series. Shafali is a fearless girl without a doubt and that is why she is a fan’s favourite. However, batting deep and rotating the strike is the key to success in one-day cricket. Along with an explosive approach, Shafali has to develop the same attitude to make into the playing XI for India in the World Cup. She has another opportunity in the upcoming Australia Series to make the most out of it. 

Smrithi Mandhana is one of the senior pros and the vice captain in T20 format for India. She has been contributing so much for the team with runs and is an inspiring lady for most of the young girls out there. The left hander has played 59 ODIs with an average of 41.7,which very much tells about her consistency in the format. Smriti’s only flaw is her lack of match-winning performances in big games. However, with time, a player of her caliber is ought to improve 

Mithali Raj is the finest ever cricketer in women’s cricket. She has over 7000 runs in 217 matches with an outstanding average of 51.26. Mithali does not have a title to her name and her dream to bring the cup home could end in the coming ODI world cup.

Harmanpreet Kaur is the T20 skipper of India and is known for her long-hitting ability. She has played 107 games with a decent avg of 34.7. Adding to her prowess, she has shown the temperament on the D day. She has done it quite a few times in the past and the fans expect her to replicate the same in the coming big days. 

Jhulan Goswaami is the most senior pro to guide through with the ball. 236 games old but still outshine every other bowler with extra bounce and pace. She has 188 wickets to her tally. She would be itching to end her career on high with a world cup title.

Punam Raut, one of the consistent performers in 2017 world cup and averages 34.5 with an experience of 73 games. She bats deep and that gives extra stability to get runs in the back end. 

Jemimah Rodrigues, 20 year old young lady who came into the national side with an excellent domestic record. She is yet to prove herself in the 50 over format but there cannot be a better time before the world cup to do it.

Deepti Sharma is one of India’s finest all rounders. She has so much left to prove. Deepti has played 61 games, averaging 37.6 with bat and 29.2 with ball at an economy of 3.92. She has 68 wickets to her name. Her middle order batting helps the team to go through the innings. No doubt she is one of the pillars in the Indian team.

Poonam Yadav, one of the best economical leggie who has 75 wickets with an economy of 3.87 having played 52 games. She delivers when it is required and she is consistent enough to get going.

Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Ektha Bisth are two decent finds for India women in spin department. They have done well in the 2017 world cup as well, especially the latter has been top notch. They need to continue with the same spark for another go at the title.

Some of the good seaming options like Shika Pandey, Arundhathi Reddy, Pooja Vastrakar, Mansi Joshi. Spinning options like Radha Yadav are performing well but not consistent enough. In the batting department, other options are Priya Punia, Harleen Deol, Taniya Bhatia ,Veda Krishnamurthy, Indrani Roy.

The recent sensation in Indian women cricket is Sneh Rana and Richa Gosh. The former made an inspiring comeback to international cricket. Richa Gosh, who is known for her fearless batting, is expected to be an upcoming superstar. 

The upcoming Australia Series is set to kick start from 19th September with 3 ODIs, 3 T20s and a one off test match. It’s an important tour ahead of the world cup to try out different combinations.

 The upcoming World Cup is set to be hosted by New Zealand and is scheduled to start from March 4. India has already made a direct qualification.

For a team to be successful, the combination matters a lot in addition to the player’s potential. Australia doing that right over the years and no wonder why they have 6 titles. England also has been doing the same and have 4 titles to their name. New Zealand falls next to the list in terms of developing the game. The reason for their success is quite obvious that they play as many domestic games as they can and not to forget the International leagues they conduct to find new talents. It’s come nicely for them over the past few years especially from (WBBL, W Super Smash and now W Hundred).

Keeping the world cup dreams aside, the quality of cricket India women exhibits currently is tremendous to watch. The improvement happened rather quickly. Setting their eyes on the coming world cup, India is trying to fill the holes in time. The fans would be expecting a much improved show from them as another disappointing world cup campaign could eventually further them from what they deserve. 

India women definitely need a league like IPL to produce enough quality young players to rule the international circuit. Fingers crossed, hoping to witness major developments in Indian women’s cricket in the next couple of years….!

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