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Mithali Raj’s Team Can Make History Like Kapil Dev’s Did in 1983

With similarities between both the teams, it looks like Mithali Raj’s Eves are on their way to spark a revolution.

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A religion called cricket gripped India in 1983, when the Kapil Dev-led men’s team was crowned World Champions. The then minnows, who had done little in the previous World Cup editions to inspire confidence from supporters, beat the force West Indies was at that time.

And suddenly, India witnessed a revolution. A revolution impactful enough to inspire a 10-year-old Sachin Tendulkar to play international cricket. A metamorphosis that spiralled the sale of cricketing kits at the local stores.

Prior to 1983, fans had only passing interest in cricket. And then, the World Cup happened. How often have your elders bragged about being alive during the 1983 saga? Many times. The subsequent edition of the tournament in 1987 was hosted in India (and Pakistan). Such was the craze for the game in the country which now has two World Cup titles.

Cut to 2017 and just imagine the following. You log-in to your Facebook account and find friends going tizzy over Indian women cricket team’s qualification for the World Cup semis. You put on your television and view pundits reviewing how, a team that had to play the World Cup qualifiers to play the World Cup, reached the finals by defeating defending champions Australia.

With similarities between both the teams, it looks like Mithali Raj’s Eves are on their way to spark a revolution.
The Indian team celebrate a wicket during a ICC Women’s World Cup match.
(Photo: AP)
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Imagine the Headlines

Next morning, the front page of your daily newspaper writes a tribute to the Indian girls. Amidst all this, you feel a sense of guilt, and also perhaps feel left out of the celebrations. All because you didn’t watch the India vs Australia semi-final match. Do you really want to risk not watching something that can be folklore in the coming years?

It can be recalled that this is not the first time the women have made it to the semi-finals of the tournament. Neither will it be the first time that they will make it to the final, if they do.

India lost to Australia in the final of the 2005 World Cup played at South Africa, but back then, matches were not televised, and the media attention was far lesser than what it is now.

In many ways this was a stinging reminder to the patriarchal society we were a part of. Things are changing and we are evolving. Not for nothing is cricket so much like life. This is exactly why the women’s team need your support more than ever to finally bring about the breakaway in 2017.

With similarities between both the teams, it looks like Mithali Raj’s Eves are on their way to spark a revolution.
Kapil Dev smiles as he receives the World Cup in 1983.
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Indian Cricket Team)

Similarities Between 1983 and 2017 World Cups

You may not have the bragging rights for the 1983 World Cup. But on 20 July, when the India Eves will fight it out to move a step closer to the silverware, you have a golden chance to witness history.

In 1983, India beat the pre-tournament favourites Australia to make it to the semi-final, a dominant unexpected victory similar to the Indian women beating New Zealand to make it to the semi-final last week. And that is not all the similarity.

During the group stage, there were two crushing defeats for Kapil’s troop – against Australia and West Indies, similar to Indian women’s defeats at the hands of South Africa and Australia of 2017.

Women’s cricket is still in the shadow of men’s cricket. But if they win the semi-final, you can expect the resurgence of a team no longer adjuncts to men. Indian Cricket, after thirty-four years, may once again spark a new revolution. Then, do you really want to risk not witnessing it live on the television?

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With similarities between both the teams, it looks like Mithali Raj’s Eves are on their way to spark a revolution.
File photo of Mithali Raj.
(Photo: AP)

A Novice’s Guide

Is your lack of knowledge on women’s cricket, common to most of us, making you uninterested in the semi-final? Worry not, here’s all you need to know about India’s World Cup journey thus far, and the heroines who made it all happen.

The 2017 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup is the 11th edition of the tournament, India hosted it in 2013, and the closest they got to the trophy was in 2005 when they lost the finals.

India were one of the four teams that had to play the World Cup qualifiers earlier this year to qualify for the tournament. Having laboriously made it to the quadrennial event, they upstaged forces like England and New Zealand to reach the semi-finals.

They lost two of their seven games, and notably trounced rivals Pakistan by 95 runs. However, India’s greatest victory came against New Zealand in the knockout game, which they won by 186 runs.

With similarities between both the teams, it looks like Mithali Raj’s Eves are on their way to spark a revolution.
The Indian and Pakistan players shake hands after their World Cup match.
(Photo: AP)
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Meet Our Girls

Mithali Raj – The 35-year-old captain is playing her fifth ODI World Cup and is the all-time highest-run getter in ODIs, a feat she reached in the game against Australia. She has been in sensational form in the on-going tournament, and possibly playing her last World Cup, Mithali would be keen to sign off with the trophy in hand.

Jhulan Goswami – The highest wicket-taker in ODIs, Goswami, at 35, too might be playing her last World Cup. Although she hasn't had the best of tournaments this year, the experience of playing in three World Cups before this is certainly helping the team.

Smriti Mandhana – The 20-year-old took the world by storm with her elegant backfoot strokes as she demolished England and West Indies in the first two games. However, she hasn’t been able to get going since and will have to step up in the semi-final.

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Deepti Sharma –The quintessential right arm off-break bowler, who any captain would love to have in her team, is never afraid of flighting the ball, inviting the batters to step out. She is no mug with the bat either, and can chip in crucial runs when needed.

Punam Raut – The 27-year-old was the highest run scorer for India this tournament until the game against Australia when she scored a century. Since Raut has already read the deadly Australian bowlers well, India can bank upon her in the semi-final.

Ekta Bisht - The first woman cricketer from Uttarakhand, the 31-year-old left arm spinner bowled a memorable spell of 5/18 against arch-rivals Pakistan and will be crucial to India’s remaining campaign in the tournament.

With similarities between both the teams, it looks like Mithali Raj’s Eves are on their way to spark a revolution.
File photo of Ekta Bisht.
(Photo: AP)
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Harmanpreet Kaur – India’s T20 captain, the right hand batter is the only Indian cricketer, male or female, to play in the Big Bash League. The 28-year-old chipped in a crucial 60 in the game against New Zealand and will look to continue the good run in the semi-final.

Veda Krishnamurthy – The 24-year-old’s destructive batting helped India humiliate New Zealand in the virtual quarter-final where she smashed 70 off 45 balls. Having stepped up at such a crucial stage, her confidence will be key to fighting the menacing Australian bowlers in the semi-final. And, she is a brilliant fielder!

Rajeshwari Gayakwad – The slow left-arm bowler played her first match of the World Cup against New Zealand and claimed a fifer! The 26-year-old’s confidence is something to watch out for.

With similarities between both the teams, it looks like Mithali Raj’s Eves are on their way to spark a revolution.
Harmanpreet Kaur in action during the World Cup match against New Zealand.
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Harmanpreet Kaur)
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Mona Meshram – The all-rounder has played only three of India’s seven games this tournament, in which she scored 24 runs in total and remains wicket-less so far.

Mansi Joshi – The right-arm medium-fast bowler’s best came against Pakistan where she conceded just nine runs in six overs, bowling two maidens and taking two wickets.

Shikha Pandey –The 28-year-old pacer has provided crucial breakthroughs early on in the innings and can be Mithali’s go to bowler in the semi-final.

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Sushma Verma - India's first-choice wicketkeeper, Verma’s work behind the stumps has often been compared to MS Dhoni’s. However, her contributions as a batter have been minimal.

Poonam Yadav – An economy of 3.45 is testimony to how economical the legspinner has been in the tournament. Watch out for her googlies!

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So, who will you have your eyes on? On Mandhana, who reminds us of Adam Gilchrist’s drives, or Raut, who averages 40 in the tournament? Or Bisht, whose fifer thrashed Pakistan?

Or will you cheer your heart out for Jhulan Goswami and Mithali Raj – the two cornerstones of Indian Cricket playing their last World Cup?

Again, do you really want to miss a possible revolution in Indian Cricket? 20 July, 3 PM IST. Inform your institutes and offices already.

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(Umaima Saeed is a self-confessed introvert who binges on cricket and lets her writing do the talking.)

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