‘Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing’ – never has this infamous quote been proven so wrong. The Indian women’s cricket team may have lost the ICC Women World Cup final, but the team have won a million hearts around the globe. In a sport that has been dominated by men, the Indian women’s cricket team have finally made their mark building a platform for the coming generations.
Against all odds, the women’s team did the impossible and raced to the semi-finals to face mighty Australia – a side they defeated only once in eight games before the semis. A brilliant individual performance from Harmanpreet Kaur turned the game around and India cruised to the finals against England.
Winning the toss, India chose to bowl first and picked up three early wickets to put England on the backfoot. However, England’s Sarah Taylor and Nat Sciver maintained poise and rebuilt the innings to give the home team a steady start. However, just as the English were taking command over the match, Jhulan Goswami spun her magic and took consecutive wickets to halt England’s cruise. The team bowled superbly and fielded equally well to restrict England to 228 in 50 overs. Jhulan Goswami finished with match figures of 3/23 and picked a total of 36 wickets in the tournament – the third highest in history.
Chasing a target of 229, India were off to shaky start losing Smriti Mandhana and skipper Mithali Raj in quick time. The hero of the semi-final Harmanpreet Kaur came to India’s rescue by building a steady partnership of 93 runs with opener Punam Raut. However, a poorly timed shot saw Kaur (51) return to the pavilion. Punam Raut (86) held the innings together along with Veda Krishnamurthy to build another partnership of 53 runs putting India on the brink of victory.
India seemed on course for a maiden World Cup trophy requiring 38 runs off the last 7 overs. But what followed next was something that no one could have ever imagined! The team caved in under pressure and suffered a batting collapse, losing 7 wickets for 28 runs to slip from 191/ 3 to 219 all out.
Despite the heartbreak, the women’s team have emerged as true champions. They have shown that ‘Winning Isn’t Everything… but the Will to Win Is’. For decades, women’s cricket had taken a backseat, with minimal public interest, no endorsements or publicity. However, as the Indian women’s team took the centre stage in England, it changed the mindset of millions of viewers across the world. While the tickets for the final were sold out to a record audience of 26,500+, more than 50 million people tuned in to watch this World Cup, an 80% increase over 2013. This Women’s World Cup will surely go down in the history books as the turning point for women’s cricket across the world.