A cricket-loving nation cheers for its women cricketers for the first time
Get to know the women in blue who fought like warriors in the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup.
With more than 50 million viewers tuning in from around the world, Sunday's World Cup final was the most watched women’s cricket match ever. What's more, more than 26,000 spectators watched nail-biting finale between hosts England and India at Lord's – where Kapil Dev’s devils won the 1983 World Cup.
The Indian women began the tournament ranked number 4 but like classic underdogs they beat all the teams ranked above them en route to the final, including six-time champions Australia.
They might not have brought home the cup but the 11 women cricketers put up a rocking fight and the nation felt their pain at the narrow 9-run loss. However, the team has managed to break a glass ceiling in sports, and women’s cricket is never going to be the same again.
And here is the squad that played the final:
Mithali Dorai Raj
Mithali loves to read and she won hearts when she was filmed reading a book by Jalaluddin Rumi before walking out to bat in a previous match. This captain cool, who is the daughter of an Air Force officer, has been compared to Dhoni for her leadership capabilities and Sachin for her classy batting. She is also respectfully called "Didi" by many of her team mates.
This confident Punjabi girl won the hearts of her country with her stunning 171 runs against Australia in the semi finals. The 28-year-old right-hander hit 20 fours and 7 sixes to garner 171 from 115 balls.
Jarrod Kimber described her rather dramatically but still aptly:
"You could bowl her a grenade, and she'd blow you up with it."
The fast bowler from West Bengal is one of the seniormost players in the team. The highest wicket-taker in women’s ODI, Jhulan bowled beautifully in the final and helped India off to a great start with figures of 3/23 in her 10 overs.
Though the opener was dismissed early in the final, this Marathi girl comes from a family of cricketers, her father and brother being district-level cricketers. After a ligament rupture early this year, Smriti was on a break for five months.
Wicket-keeper Sushma, 24, a Shimla girl, also plays for Railways along with Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur and Punam Raut.
Karnataka girl Veda is a right-handed batswoman. The 24-year-old is the youngest daughter of a cable operator. Her father moved from Chikmagalur to Bangalore just so that she could realise her dream of playing for the country.
Nineteen-year-old all-rounder Deepti is a right-handed batter and a right-arm off spinner. She holds the record for the highest score by an Indian woman cricketer with her knock of 188 against Ireland in May this year.
The 27-year-old holds the highest partnership in women’s cricket with Deepti Sharma at 320. This Mumbai girl was a tomboy who played cricket with the boys in her neighbourhood.
Hailing from Karnataka like Veda, Rajeshwari did not allow her humble background to deter her from her dream of making it to the national team. A few days ago, Sachin Tendulkar had called Rajeshwari a source of inspiration for many young men and women.
Twenty-eight-year-old fast bowler Shikha has been playing for Goa from the age of 15. An Air Force officer, she is the second Goan cricketer after Dilip Sardesai to make it to the national team.
The 25-year-old leg spinner from Agra is the daughter of an Army man. Her short stature is quite misleading. Like PM Modi said the spinner’s fantastic bowling is quite lethal for even the best batsmen.