In a country that raises its national cricket team to almost god-like stature, the women in blue, with their stellar performance throughout 2017, have made sure that they are nothing less of a phenomenon.
For the first-time, not just cricket devotees but the whole nation began to admit that India’s Women Cricket team, which is captained by versatile Mithali Raj and guided by coach Tushar Arothe, is not a team to be overlooked.
ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 will be one tournament that will be remembered for years to come, for the team not only showcased an exceptional form and high calibre performance but also left the whole of international cricket fraternity in admiration by winning two out of three tournaments that they had been part of.
Here are six ovation-worthy instances of 2017 when India’s women cricket team proved that they were players of their own league:
1. The year started with the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in February, as the team had to give away its ODI championship points as a penalty for not playing a bilateral series with Pakistan. But what could have been a deterrent turned out to be a stunner, for the series showcased some of the finest individual performances, especially in the final against South Africa. Vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur took India straight to the World Cup, by achieving the near-impossible target of eight runs from the last two balls.
2. Next followed the Quadrangular series in April, where the women went on a record-breaking ravage. They even beat hosts South Africa in the finals by eight wickets. From Jhulan Goswami being dubbed the leading wicket-taker in ODIs to a record partnership of 320 runs by young cricketers Deepti Sharma and Punam Raut in an ODI against Ireland, the tournament saw the Indian team leaping to some great heights.
3. The match also charted history with a total of 358 – which is India’s highest in ODIs besides Deepti and Punam becoming the first-ever pair to go past 300 runs in women’s ODIs. Also, Deepti’s 188 runs off 167 balls, is the second highest score in ODI history.
4. Though the wins in Sri Lanka and South Africa were quite boosting, even the captain was a little apprehensive about them clinching the world champions’ title and deemed the possibility as revolutionary. Stunning England in their opener, the team went on a hat-trick streak by beating West Indies, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, with brilliant performances by Smriti Mandhana, Ekta Bisht, and Deepti Sharma.
5. What followed the initial winning streak were two consecutive losses, which meant they had to buckle up in a match against former champions New Zealand to reach the semis. Beating the White Ferns by 186 runs, which is the highest margin of victory by runs in the history of the Women’s World Cup, the match proved to be a game-changer for the Indian team. Rajeshwari Gayakwad returned an implausible 5/15, and Veda Krishnamurthy clinched 70 off 45 balls, both performances being record setters for Indian cricketers.
6. In the semi-finals, India beat Australia, who were the defending champions, world No 1, and finalists in six out of the previous eight World Cups by 36 runs, with an unbeaten 171 off 115 balls by Harmanpreet, which is the third-highest score in the World Cup and included 20 fours and seven sixes.
Despite the final against England being a heartbreaker, with the team finishing as runners-up by only nine runs, the India Women’s team came home champions, winning Indian hearts with their scintillating performance. We hope 2018 remains just as spectacular for the amazing women in blue.