In the pre-tournament roundtable of ICC T20 World Cup, Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur was asked by Melanie Jones who would she like to play against in the final. Harmanpreet replied – “Australia”. In last 4 matches from January both the teams have won two matches each and has geared up for the final of the ICC T20 World Cup.
But apart from the result, this final is significant for various other reasons as well. To one who has been following women cricket from 2014, the increase in the number of viewers gives a sense of assurance. 1m people followed the first match between India and Australia on hotstar, way ahead of the first match of the previous edition.
Maybe the increment is less if we compare that with the men’s game but each baby step is important regarding the current status of women cricket. This world Cup which was preceded by the Tri-Series witnessed India, playing the final, despite its hiccups. They went on to lost the final from the comfortable position and later was bashed by their ex -captained Daina Edulji, for being ‘lazy’.
However, in the ICC T20 World Cup, India with a bunch of inexperienced, young players turn out to be victorious in all the four group matches. What is worth remembering that all these victories came without the vital contribution from their experienced top order which they banked heavily upon. The bowlers have able to sidelined the continuous failure of the batters and have defended the totals.
16 years old Shafali Verma has become the household name after her whirlwind innings in 4 matches and often being compared with Indian opener Virendra Sehwag. 2nd highest scorer of the team, Jemimah Rodrigues has scored almost half of her run, to project that how the other batters played the supportive role which turns out to be crucial in the context of the match.
It can be Deepti Sharma’s unbeaten 49 against Australia or Veda Krishnamurthy’s unbeaten 20 of 11 balls against Bangladesh. The team-work rather than dependence on any particular player was the key in the road to the final. India has never played a T20 World Cup final before and qualification for the semifinal in 2009, 2010 and 2018 was their best till this edition. 2020 World Cup which is the first standalone Women T-20 World cup and the final which will be witnessed by almost 80k crowds under the initiative of the campaign named #filltheMCG.
Australia has won the ICC T20 World Cup 4 times whereas India is yet to win one. The dominated side will face one of the consistent sides of this year. Though the Indian side has reached the final and the support has increased but the euphoria is no match with that of men’s game. If India loses to the dominating Aussie side, apart from the passionate set of followers the agony will not be the same as it was for the men’s side in 2015 or even 2019 World Cup.
But even India manage to win this time this can work as one of the water shade moment of their cricketing history. Just like the performances in 2017 world cup has increased the interest in women cricket among the Indian masses an ICC Trophy will double it. Consistent performances in the ICC events can be overlooked by the masses but a trophy can’t be.