The Indian women's cricket team is on the cusp of creating history as they clash with England at the World Cup finale in Lord's on Sunday. The Mithali Raj led team has raised expectations back home and millions are waiting with bated breath for the girls to lift the glittering silverware.
England have never lost a World Cup and India has never won one. Many experts have predicted that just as men's cricket received a massive bosst from Kapil Dev and team's huge victory in the 1983 World Cup, women's cricket too can expect a revolution if they conquer the world stage in 2017.
Two old warhorses of the Indian cricket team, Mithali Raj and pacer Jhulan Goswami are the lone survivors from the 2005 title defeat to Australia. Playing their final game on cricket's biggest stage, they will bank on this resurgent team to right a few wrongs in the summit clash and bring home the coveted trophy that has remained elusive in their careers spanning over 15 years.
The Indians started off their campaign in emphatic fashion upsetting hosts England in their opening game of the tourney. Mithali Raj led team then secured three straight wins on the trot against Sri Lanka, West Indies and arch rivals Pakistan to virtually seal their place in the semis.
The Indians who were steam rolling at that stage were given a reality check by the Proteas, losing by a massive 115 runs. The team regrouped brilliantly after the defeat and pulled off an impressive win against New Zealand to seal their place in the last four. India was up against a formidable Australian side in their semi-final clash.
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Indians were in all sorts of trouble with two early wickets but Harmanpreet Kaur played the knock of her life to turn around the game in India's favour and sealed a berth in the finals.
India's march to the finals can be summarised as a story of great team work and some breathtaking individual performances. The team has gelled brilliantly under the aegis of their star skipper Mithali Raj who has led from the front with the willow.
Raj has been the lynchpin of the Indian batting and emerged as the highest run-scorer in ODI history. Punam Raut, Veda Krishnamurthy and Harmanpreet Kaur have been the other solid performers with the bat.
The Indian bowling unit has come good in the tournament. Veteran seamer Jholan Goswami has spearheaded the pace attack with distinction picking up early wickets. She too has become the highest wicket-taker in ODIs and has raised her game in the knockout games.
The spin trioka of Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Ekta Bisht and Deepti Sharma have dented oppositions by running through sides in most of the games. So, in a nutshell, Team India has the arsenal to beat England and clinch their maiden World Cup title.
Mithali Raj (C), Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Punam Raut, Deepti Sharma, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, Ekta Bisht, Sushma Verma, Mansi Joshi, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Nuzhat Parween and Smriti Mandhana.
Heather Knight(C), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Beth Langston, Laura Marsh, Anya Shrubsole, Natalie Sciver, Sarah Taylor, Fran Wilson, Danielle Wyatt and Lauren Winfield.