“As for South Africa, it has several good memories for Indian fans, and we are hoping to bring them more cheer. Our men’s team played the final of the 2003 World Cup there and the women’s team followed by making the final in 2005. The Indian men’s team then did one better by winning the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. Will we be able to emulate them once again? Only time will tell, but we definitely are aiming to do that!” the Indian skipper, the Harmanpreet Kaur full of aspirations, stated warmly.
The Women in Blue concluded as the runners-up of the previous edition of the Women’s T20 World Cup, but they are preparing to surpass themselves at the South Africa 2023 edition of the competition. India won the first ever Men’s T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007 under the leadership of MS Dhoni. Kaur said that they plan to make history again when the Women’s event begins on February 10.
Recalling the finals of the T20 World Cup 2022 which was swept far by the Aussies, she added in her exclusive column for the ICC, “Our last match of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup – the 2020 final at the MCG – was watched by 86,174 spectators! That’s inspiration enough as we prepare to begin our campaign this time. That match, played on International Women’s Day three years ago, was a huge moment for women’s sport worldwide, as the iconic venue filled up for the Australia versus India match with fervour.“
Reflecting on the progression of the Women’s game, she made it clear that theirs is no more a niche, and further went on to note, “I still get goosebumps remembering that match as I think of my earlier years on the circuit and realise the kind of progress women’s cricket has made. I have played in all the T20 World Cups so far – in fact I debuted in the format at the inaugural edition in 2009– and have seen the pace of the game surge like anything.“
She acknowledged that the five-times T20 World Cup champions and current No. 1 team on the ICC Women’s T20I Team Rankings, Australia, will enter the 2023 edition as the favorites, but she also stated that the other teams have improved their play, helping to bridge the gap.
“India have made the final of ICC women’s global events three times – the 50-over World Cups of 2005 and 2017 being the other occasions – and are hungry for that evasive title as we go to South Africa with high hopes and the confidence of having an outfit that can beat any team on its day,” she remarked it much vivid.
Kaur is optimistic about her battalion’s chances at the T20 World Cup, citing their recent triumph and the presence of a talented mix of young and seasoned players, including Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh, who won the U-19 Women’s T20 Cup Final this past Sunday to paint history on the canvas of blossomed cricket.
She further quoted, “We have senior players as well as young guns like Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh, who are fresh from the Indian team’s victory at the Under-19 World Cup, play an attractive brand of cricket and now also have enough experience of top-class cricket. We have depth in batting and enough variety in bowling with Renuka Singh stepping up well in the pace department to do what is required against top teams.“
The Women in Blue have done well in their groundwork. In recent months, they have taken home Silver at the Commonwealth Games and won the Asia Cup. They had another chance to test themselves and their combinations against a top team in a home series against Australia in December.
“Though we lost the series 4-1, there were enough thrills in the series for the thousands who thronged the Mumbai stadiums. The attendance in those matches also reflected the growing attention the women’s game has been able to attract in recent times. Now, it’s all about us putting to use our experiences, remaining focussed and not getting overawed at crucial junctures. We have confidence in our abilities and understand that we need to step up a level to be remembered as a world-beating Indian side,” she concluded.