Indian women's cricket on the cusp of its 1983 moment

Last Updated: Fri, Jul 21, 2017 00:56 hrs
Harmanpreet Kaur slammed a brilliant record unbeaten 171 as India eves set a date with England in the final of the Women's World Cup

Australia has won the ODI Women's World Cup (WWC) six times. India has never done so. The two teams squared off in the 2005 WWC final. While we restricted them to just 215 runs in 50 overs, the Indians crashed, making just 117 runs.

In the league face-off of WWC 2017, Australia once again beat India by 8-wickets. However history was made in the Derby semi-final when India beat the Aussies by 36 runs to storm into the final where it will face defending champions England on their own turf.

Just one real turning point in the match

India had just made 35 runs after 9.2 overs and already lost two wickets when Harmanpreet Kaur walked in to bat. Australia were well and truly on top but after that Kaur steadily built up her innings pressing the accelerator harder and harder as the innings progressed.

Kaur finally remained unbeaten on 171 off a mere 115 balls in one of the greatest ODI innings of all time. She hit seven sixes and would surely have hit a double century had it been a 50-overs game and not a 42-overs one thanks to the rain.

While Kaur made just 36 runs in her first 50 balls, she belted 135 in her last 65 balls! Australia was never really in the game after that. Elyse Villani gave India a little scare with 75 off 58 at the beginning.

Alex Blackwell gave India a big scare with 90 off 56 towards the end. However the asking rate kept climbing up throughout her innings and the Aussies never had a realistic chance. Kaur's clean hitting single-handedly won the game for India.

Now that's an awesome hat-trick!

There have been only three world champions in women’s ODI cricket. Australia has six titles, England three and New Zealand one. This is a rare World Cup where we have beaten all three champions.

We beat England in the opening match quite comfortably by 35 runs. We crushed New Zealand by a whopping 186 runs in the last must-win match of the league. In the semis, we beat Australia by 36 runs.

India has no excuses and no jinxes. It is in red hot form. It won 16 international matches on the trot in the last odd year. It won the Quadrangular featuring South Africa. And it has now beaten all the world champions. We are just one match away from becoming world champions ourselves.

England is lucky for the men. Lucky for the women too?

Then men's team simply loves England. We won the 1983 World Cup and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy there. One of our greatest triangular final wins was at Lord’s in 2001. We also have three Test series victory in England (as against zero in both Australia and South Africa).

Lord's is our happiest overseas hunting ground and we have won many great Tests and ODIs there. So now will England be lucky for the women’s game too? Will Lord’s shine on India for the umpteenth time? Let’s hope the women can make that ground their own!

What Kapil Dev did in 1983, Mithali Raj has a great chance to do in 2017.

When just about everyone joined in the party

This is one World Cup where India has had absolutely no shortage of heroines. In the opening match with defending champions England, Smriti Mandhana blasted 90 off 72. She followed that up with an unbeaten century in the very next match and drew comparisons with Master Blaster Virender Sehwag on Twitter.

After that Ekta Bisht’s 5/18 totally sunk arch-enemy Pakistan. With Sri Lanka, all-rounder Deepti Sharma hit a 78 and grabbed one wicket.

Poonam Raut joined the party with a century versus Australia while Veda Krishnamurthy clobbered New Zealand with a 45-ball 70. Rajeshwari Gayakwad bettered Ekta with a 5/15 in the same match. Rajeshwari and Ekta have the best bowling performances of WWC 2017.

And of course there is captain Mithali Raj, who led from the front and has scored close to 400 runs in the tournament. In the process, she became the first woman to go past 6000 runs in ODI cricket and inching close to becoming the first to play 200 ODIs.

Finally, the semi-final was Kaur all the way. So it’s a total team effort through and through and we have a great chance in the final to lift our maiden World Cup trophy. England beware, the Indians are coming your way!