Can Mithali Raj and co. create history at Lord’s and follow the likes of Kapil Dev and Sourav Ganguly? India awaits one more chance of redemption when they play England in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup final. 34 years have passed since Kapil Dev lifted the trophy at the Mecca of cricket back in 1983 when India beat the mighty West Indies by 43 runs. India established its identity as a cricket playing nation that day, and the entire nation believed that India can also be world beaters.
In 1989, India saw the advent of a new promise in the form of Sachin Tendulkar, who not only emerged as the best batsman of the modern era, but also changed the identity of cricket in India. With his class and caliber, Indian cricket soon transformed from a sport to a religion. But, India was deemed as soft performers abroad which depended on individual brilliance from players like Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin. They hardly won any game overseas as they banked on only individual contributions.
However, the mindset of Indian Cricket changed with an aggressive and fearless leader in Sourav Ganguly, who looked eye to eye with tough competitive teams. India started to play as a team rather than a bunch of gifted individual cricketers. India started to win games overseas and beat every team in their own backyard. India made history at Lords, by beating England in their home turf by chasing down a massive total of 326 runs which no one dreamt of achieving. With a bunch of young talented cricketers and a few senior pro’s India rose from no 8. to no. 2 in the ICC test team rankings.
This Indian women’s cricket team has the same fighting spirit. It has done fabulously well in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup. Under the dynamic leadership of Mithali Raj, the team has really raised high hopes of glory after beating the mighty Australians to enter the finals. There have been some brilliant performances both in the batting as well as in the bowling department. With Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur and captain Mithali Raj scoring centuries in crucial matches and fine bowling performances from senior pro Jhulan Goswami and young Deepti Sharma, India certainly can hope to lift the trophy if they execute their plans on the big day. However they play a dangerous England side, who have been champions three times.
So, India even after beating England comfortably in the group stage fixture will be the underdogs as they look to better their record of finishing second in 2005. Only time will tell, if Mithali Raj and co. will walk along the footsteps of Kapil Dev and his 1983 world cup winning team, and the prayers of 1.3 billion people will be answered or not.