England on Sunday defeated India by 9 runs in a thrilling final of ICC Women's World Cup 2017 at the historic Lord's cricket ground in London.
The Indians chasing a tricky target of 229 runs looked all set to clinch their maiden title after being well placed at 191-3. However, there was a twist in the tale as English seamer Anya Shrubsoley bowled her heart out to trap opener Punam Raut leg-before for 86, sparking the "historic Indian collapse" of 7 wickets for just 28 runs.
A day before final, Anya Shrubsoley had said that England will try to produce a "Perfect game" against India and she took 6 wickets for 46 runs.
After their 4th world cup victory, England looked extremely happy while the Indians had their dreams shattered.
I myself thought they are having India's share of celebrations. I had even decided to write "Champions" as the headline of our lead story which would later be changed to a famous Bollywood film dialogue "Mhari Chhoriya ke chhoro se kam hai (Our girls are no less than our boys)."
As a keen follower of Indian sports, I have never seen fans talk about women's cricket in India with so much of passion and enthusiasm. But on Sunday, from 'God of Cricket' Sachin Tendulkar to common citizens of India, everyone was talking about it and expressing thier disaapointment after the defeat.
Before the 2017 World Cup, most people didn't even know the names of entire women team members.
The defeat felt like, you are thirsty for years and about to drink water but someone snatched your glass. The pain increased a lot more after seeing British Journalist Piers Morgan's well-expected tweet to legendary opener Virender Sehwag.
Sehwag and Morgan share a "sporty" rivalry on twitter. It all started after Morgan's criticism of Indian athletes on their poor show in Last year's Rio Olympic.
Morgan taunted India for not winning any Gold in a major sports event. In reply, Sehwag challenged him that if England win an ODI world cup before India win its Olympic gold, he would donate a million Rupees to charity.
In a country where men's cricket is followed almost like a religion and men in blue are household icons, there is little awareness about women’s cricket.
The Indian eve's grand entry into the world cup finale at Lord's was a wow moment for millions who turned fans of the team’s grit and determination. But the eventual collapse of the team almost when it was about to create history left the fans disappointed.
But this "disappointment" is actually a blessing in disguise for Women's cricket in the country. At least, we started caring for our ladies.
More than the defeat, it was the display of sheer courage of the team that won the hearts of millions of fans across the country. Hopefully, the defeat shall prove a necessary trigger for the administrators to invest even more time and money into women’s cricket, as they do to men’s cricket, to hone the players’ skills and prepare them for a sure-shot victory on the world stage.
As our Sports Expert Gautam Lalotra says, "though the team lost, it has brought our female cricketers into the limelight and they have received the much-required support and accolades from all quarters they deserved for years."
Mithali Raj’s ‘chhoriyan’ in blue have proved they are no less than the ‘chhoraas’ in blue. It’s matter of time they shall garner an equally large fan following in a country which creates god out of sports like cricket.