The Indian women's cricket team fell short of the ultimate glory by a whisker after suffering a nine-run loss to hosts England in the final of the 2017 ICC World Cup at Lord's on Sunday.
Even though most of the team was left in tears at the end of the match after coming so close to the silverware, their performance in the tournament — beating some of the more fancied sides such as Australia along the way — won them a billion hearts back home, and they can rest assured of bringing women's cricket to the spotlight in India.
India captain Mithali Raj, who along with veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami made what could be her last appearance in a World Cup in the final on Sunday, was full of pride for her teammates at the conclusion of the mega event. However, when it came to analysing the team's performances in the summit clash, she did point out a few areas where the Indians were pegged back.
"Katherine Brunt’s 34 was very crucial for them. At one stage, they were six-seven wickets down, so her runs, and who ever came in, had extended their total to 228. Which we could not do," said Raj in a report on BCCI's official website. England were 164/6, having lost three wickets in quick succession and staring at the possibility of getting restricted to a sub-200 total, when Brunt produced a useful cameo.
India, who were asked to bowl on a pitch that was conducive for batting despite having some grass on it, were steady in their chase of the 229-run target for the most part, thanks mainly to a healthy partnerships between Punam Raut (85), Harmanpreet Kaur (51) and Veda Krishnamurthy (35). However, India lost the plot towards the end of their chase, losing their last seven wickets for just 28 runs.
"We were in the game until Shikha’s (Pandey) wicket fell. She was the last person I thought could pull the match through. When she got out we needed 11 runs. After that I thought we may not get those 10 runs to equal the total," added Raj in the report.
This was only the second time the Indian team made it to the final of the World Cup — losing the final of the 2005 edition by a heavy margin of 98 runs to Australia — while hosts England lifted the trophy for the fourth time on Sunday.
In the post-match press conference, Raj reinforced the need for having a women's edition of the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), adding that the Australian (Women's Big Bash League) and English (Kia Super League) players benefitted from their respective T20 leagues.