Hours back, two Indian teams beat two very different sides in two differnet parts of the world. On the one hand the men’s side hammered the Windies. But even before we go further, there’d be many who’ll have a scorn about the fact that even in writing about victories, it’s the menfolk who are represented ahead of the women.
To seven in ten, at least, India defeating the West Indies was a given, particularly the horrible recent form the West Indies had been demonstrting in T20I cricket.
However, India women’s side overcoming the onerous English challenge was no cakewalk, which explains the mighty impressive victory snatched by the barest of margins of four runs, truly stands out.
More importantly, the India Women’s side beat England in England. And this wasn’t some bi-lateral series; this was the ongoing Commonwealth games 2022, on which not some select countries but much of the wider world has been keeping an eye.
A 4-run-win- let that sink in.
Esssentially speaking, there’s a lot to India Women’s side beating the hosts England (since no one needs a lesson in georgraphy as to where Birmingham is).
It is a phenomenal achievement considering the might of the hosts, the very side that all but took down the Australians in the ODI Women’s World cup held earlier this year.
Having said that, India’s victory is just not about the result of winning by 4-runs; it is more about winning over a prominent force in women’s international cricket thanks to a winning attitude.
In the recent past, India women’s side struggled to face England and the narrow losses they incurred went down as being little more than nervous mindsets each time England were met.
But this time around, the side packed with no Mithali or Jhulan or even Pandey, braved the situation and faced it with utmost diligence.
There was nothing more to lose; should the Harmanpreet-led side have lost on August 6, 2022, they’d have been facing the exit. Moreover, you don’t want to go down to a powerhouse force in a pertinent mega international sporting event.
In some ways, it ought to be said, the India women’s side also overcame the devil that was haunting them post 2107 World cup: that of choking in the big stage event despite coming all that far.
This, therefore, is a major win and above all, a win of the mindset.
But how did it turnaround for India? Were there any decisions as such that helped the team along the way for the vital contest against England?
India took two bold decisions to go with spinners in the death overs. This saved the match as Deepti Sharma and Sneh Rana bowled three brilliant overs that restricted England to a major extent. Sneh Rana’s calming influence coupled with her solid domestic experience has made her the go-to bowler for the captain. Perhaps may not be incorrect to state, a go-to bowler that can be used at any stage of the match.
Deepthi Sharma’s spell added more dot ball pressure to the hosts. Just the thing you need as a team defending a competitive total against a giant force.
Smriti Mandhana was not only at her fluent best, but she changed gears to give India a blistering start.
The end result? 61 runs off just thirty two deliveries, and that emphatic strike rate of 190.
This gave every batter in the lineup a free hand to play. It was akin to seeing a true leader leading by an example.
And that wasn’t all; Jemimah Rodrigues held the middle order on her shoulders and powered India to a fighting total.
Breakthroughs at key situations when the English batters were rapidly approaching the target made a crucial impact and boosted the morale of the India women’s side. Among the key wickets, rather that of the one who scored most runs by any English player, 41 of those, happened at the back of a crazy run out.
Smriti was the enforcer and Sciver‘s fall was the biggest of them all.
If it’s only for Harmanpreet Kaur, India should have gone to win the decider in the 2022 World cup; it is now her side, which has decided to pay back for the phenomenal effort she’s put in both as captain and player. And that’s across formats since the start of 2022.
This is India’s first ever podium finish for a team sport (Cricket) and where it stands, India is assured of a medal. Well, unless, someone plays crazily bad or the opponents in the final knock the socks off India.
Regardless, India will aim for the brilliant finish. If India reaching the finals is the pinnacle of their journey so far, then winning the Commonwealth Games will speed up the momentum at which Indian women’s cricket can move on to a spot it truly deserves.