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Sunday, July 23, 2017

India loses finals of ICC Women World Cup 2017

To lose was sad ! yet, Mithali Raj & her team can feel proud for the way they played the game. For the first time in 12 years, in front of a capacity crowd at the iconic Lord's and millions more watching back home, India  had the  ultimate shot at ending their big-moment hoodoo in the grand finals  of the ICC Women's World Cup 2017 on Sunday (July 23).

The mood in Indian camp was upbeat.  They had beaten England so soundly in their opening match and that great innings of Harmanpreet enabled beating mighty Australia too.  The team has been performing well.  Both captains entered the Lord’s museum with beaming smiles that broke for a moment as they cast their eyes on the trophy to their left before taking their seats to address the media. Of all the collections in all the cricket grounds, this is one that rarely struggles for attention.

India’s captain, Mithali Raj,  had been  calm and composed before this final World Cup match. There is not much in the game she has not witnessed in an international career that started in England in 1999 and has seen her amass 228 international caps. Contrast that to England captain Heather Knight, whose 74 ODI appearances at 26 years of age hints at a precocious talent that came good when in fact she is only just getting started.
In the end, it was the nerves ~ India looked good after a grand partnership between Punam Raut and Harmanpreet after Mithali was run out. Earlier Smriti Mandhana was out for a duck.   Nick-named , 'Hoof' Anya has the ability to swing the ball both ways, it was not much of her swing but her steely nerves and resolve that did the trick. 

England won the toss and opted to bat.  A fine spell by Jhulan Goswami 10-3-23-3; Natali Sciver 51 and Sarah Taylor 45 – England ended up 228/7 and the chase looked gettable.   Jhulan had new-ball spell - 5-2-9-0 – keeping England's run rate in check even while their openers scored at eight an over at the other end. Her second - 5-1-14-3 - ripped the heart out of England's innings.

Indian chase was in disarray and chaotic towards the end as they finished 219 just 9 short of the target.  Punam Raut 86, Harmenpreet 51 and Veda Krishnamurthy 35 scored; Smriti, Jhulan, Sushma and Rajeshwari failed to open their accounts.

England’s dreams of victory looked to be slipping away when Poonam Raut was batting brilliantly as India chased 229 to win. But when the 27-year-old opener fell lbw to Shrubsole for 86 the wheels came off the innings. Wickets fell regularly as the pressure grew and when India needed 11 to win from the final 12 balls the match was wide open. Shrubsole had Deepti Sharma caught by Natalie Sciver off the first ball of the penultimate over and then bowled Rajeshwari Gayakwad to give England a famous win. From 138/2 – it was 191/4 and 201/7 – India lost but Indian women stole many a heart by their good performance.

For a change, this time, the financial incentive is great, too. The winners  take home a cheque of £508,888 (4.25 crores), with the runners-up receiving half as much. The BCCI announced on Saturday that each member of the India team will receive INR 50 lakhs for their performance in the World Cup, regardless of whether they bring home the trophy.

Well done Mithali Raj and team – we are proud of you

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd July 2017 @ 10.20 pm.

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