ICC Women's World Cup 2017: Ex-players back stronger India to go all the way
By TN Vimal Sankar | Express News Service | Published: 17th July 2017 08:10 AM |
CHENNAI: On Thursday, India will face Australia in the second World Cup semifinal in Derby. When they beat New Zealand by an emphatic 186 runs two days ago, all focus was on Mithali Raj. India’s skipper rewrote history on Wednesday against the Aussies in a league game as she became the first ever woman cricketer to score 6,000 ODI runs. But personal achievements aside, the Women in Blue are playing some fine cricket and are in great form as they approach their fourth World Cup semifinal.
The previous three semifinal appearances were a long time ago. The game has evolved since and so have players and teams. But this World Cup is of special value. For Mithali and Jhulan Goswami, two of the most experienced players in the squad, this might be their last World Cup. With the team having a perfect blend of youth and experience, this is one of the best opportunities to finally lift the trophy.
“Before 2013, there were only four top teams in England, Australia, New Zealand and India. Now, South Africa and West Indies have also come up and the standard of the game has gone up. The girls are in great form and have been playing some excellent cricket. This is the perfect opportunity to prove that they can go all the way when it matters,” said Shubhangi Kulkarni, former India cricketer.
“Twelve years ago, in the final against Australia, the girls were not mentally ready for something this big (World Cup),” says then-coach Sudha Shah. “Winning the semifinals was our main aim then. Prior to that, the girls played such a big game and were in a state of shock when they made it to the final. I think they got carried away with all the pressure. But that’s not the case anymore. They have been winning a lot of matches recently. For Mithali and Jhulan especially, winning the cup can be a perfect send-off because no one knows if they will be playing four years later. We have the skill and talent to go all the way and it’s time we prove to the world that we are the best.”
In 2013, when India hosted the World Cup, the hosts had a tournament to forget, managing only to finish seventh. However, that’s not the case now. Before the World Cup, India was on a phenomenal run of form, winning four ODI series under Mithali’s leadership. “It’s not like we have never beaten them,” Shah says. “In 2009, when the tournament was played in Australia, we defeated them to finish third. But it’s not going to be easy. They are a great side and will not give up easily. But we are better placed to win now than we were in 2005. We have been playing like champions and we deserve to lift the trophy.”