India suffered its second heartbreak of the new millennium when it lost to England by a mere 9 runs in the 2017 Women’s World Cup final at Lord’s. In 2005, India eves were thrashed by Australia and this time they ran England really close losing by just 9 runs.
It was a brilliant tournament and the Indian Eves fought till the very end and collapsed at the very last moment. Veteran captain Mithali Raj fought well as both captain and batsman, but the world title proved to be a bridge too far for her teammates.
The men's team won at Lord’s in 1983 and the women came so close at the same historic ground in 2017!
Ahead till 90-odd overs…
One must say that India was ahead for most part of the game. Our bowlers fought well and restricted England to a sub-par total of 228 thanks to an inspiring bowling spell of 3-23 from Jhulan Goswami, ably supported by Poonam Yadav’s 2-26.
At 191-3 in the 43rd over, India had one hand on the cup. Poonam Raut was unbeaten on 86 and with plenty of wickets in hand, you would have definitely put your money on India. But after that, we saw a spectacular batting collapse.
From 191-3 we crashed to 219-10. That is to say we lost 7 wickets for 28 runs! India totally threw the cup away. Even after Poonam left, a cameo of 20-30 by anyone would have seen us comfortably through. Alas that was not to be!
The first is always the most difficult
The first title is always the toughest. You get that out of the way and many more follow. The first ODI WWC was won by England and the second by Australia. And guess what? Together they have won ten WWCs!
Once you have won one cup, the others are quite easy. India had zero cups and England had 3. At 191-3 any team would have won 9/10 times. However, now England has 4 and India still has 0.
The best example is the men's West Indies team. They won the ODI World Cup in 1975 and 1979. They went into decline in the 1990s. West Indies cricket has been in the shambles in the 2000s. Yet, even in the shambles they have won one ICC Champions Trophy and two T20 World Cups!
South Africa and New Zealand on the other hand combined have zero World Cups despite playing some sterling cricket in many tournaments.
One wonders when the Indian Eves will be able to break their jinx!
A great hat-trick followed by a dubious hat-trick
India (men's) won the T20 World Cup in 2007, the ODI World Cup in 2011 and the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013. That was a really fine hat-trick and Indian cricket was on top of the world.
After that we have lost three finals in a row. First were the losses of the 2014 T20 World Cup and the 2017 Champions Trophy. And now we have the heartbreak of the final of the 2017 Women's World Cup.
While the first two were total collapses through and through, this time the Indian Eves threw it all away just at the very end.
Women's cricket in India will have to wait a little longer to break the glass ceiling.
Still an amazing team performance
It was still a great performance all the same. Before the final, we beat the defending world champions England, former World Champions New Zealand and six times World Champions Australia. And in the final, we fought well and ahead for the first 90 overs.
In the batting department, Mithali made 409 runs in the tournament, Poonam Raut 381 and Harmanpreet Kaur 359. The entire bowling department clicked and everyone picked up wickets: Deepti Sharma (12), Poonam Yadav (11), Jhulan Goswami (10), Ekta Bisht (9), Shikha Pandey (8) and Rajeshwari Gayakwad (7).
In the Playing XI only captain Mithali and bowler Jhulan are 30+, all the rest are a relatively young and may well go on to get the elusive title for India in the future. For example Deepti Sharma is just 19 and Smriti Mandhana 21.
WWC 2017 got great coverage, eyeballs and there was a real buzz. The fans strongly supported the women’s team and one hopes that this support will continue in the coming years!