The Indian women's team has been performing well over the last few years. The emergence of young stars from the youth and academy level from across the country is an encouraging sign.
The recent ICC women's T20 WC was a prime example of the young generation's coming of age. Yes, they may have faltered when it mattered the most but the performances they put as a team earned them a special place in every fan's heart. Playing under their star batter and captain, Harmanpreet Kaur, they conquered the best of teams, including mighty Australia in the group stage. Hailed as one of the greatest teams in the history of women's cricket, Australia capitulated to the wily craft of the Indian spinners, especially Poonam Yadav.
Australia, however, bounced back the way a champion side is expected to, winning the trophy in front of a 90,000-odd crowd at the MCG. Did India miss a trick going into the final yet again, after their loss to hosts England in the 2017 WC final at Lord's? Were they overawed by the occasion and lost the match even before it started? Did the senior pros let the team down in their 85-run loss?
Former Indian captain Anjum Chopra, in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, articulated how the Indian women's team gained a lot despite a hammering in the final. Having been a part of disappointing WC losses herself (WC semi-final loss to NZ in 2000 and another agonising defeat at the hands of Australia in the 2005 WC), she hailed the current bunch of confident players for their brave fight at the highest possible stage in women's cricket.
"The response to the Indian women's cricket team at the T20 WC was really good. It bodes well for the younger generation to have such a terrific and huge experience under their belt. Since they all have been at the highest stage already, they can work towards it for the future. Over 90,000 people watching at the stadium, playing at the MCG, best sporting personalities at the ground, best figures generated with people watching online and on T.V is the kind of encouragement younger generation needed."
Learnings from the heartbreaking loss
Kaur and Smriti Mandhana, the two main batters in the Indian team, did not perform to their potential at the tournament. With neither of them managing to go past an individual score of 20 in the tournament, Chopra sounded a little critical of their performances.
But she emphasized that what matters is the way the senior pros bounce back from these setbacks, especially considering the media attention around both of them. She reiterated that the players who recover quickly from these failures and learn from their mistakes are the ones who are hailed as the greats of the game.
"The pressure is always the same, whether you are playing at the inter-school game or at the international level. Obviously, the higher you go, the pressure increases. The pressure is there if you play at Lord's, MCG or at the Eden Gardens... The Indian women's cricket team is not used playing in semi-finals and finals that often, so when they eventually reach there they don't really know what to do or expect... Good players who come out of those pressure-cooker situations faster emotionally and physically, tend to become greats of the game."
She wants this team of confident Bravehearts to learn from their experiences and imbibe in them the consistency of teams like England and Australia in ICC events. Chopra praised the lesser-known players like Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and teenager Shafali Verma, who performed admirably despite having less or almost no experience in playing under such circumstances.
"Australian women's cricket team were almost out of the tournament, but they took every opportunity that came their way. They had no reason to be complacent in the finals."
"Players like Shafali Verma, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad performed when they got the opportunity. Indian women's team were a confident bunch despite Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana not performing. They played with five specialist spinners at one point, which is encouraging. It wasn't Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana's tournament but the rest of the players stepped up."Published 09 May 2020, 09:29 IST