India has a realistic chance of winning ICC Women’s T20 World Cup

Amarjeet Nayak

Harmanpreet Kaur in ICC Women's World Cup 2017

Indian women’s team has never won either the 50-over or 20-over ICC World Cup. They were the runner-up in the 50-over World Cup twice – in 2005 and 2017. In fact, they came very close to winning their first World Cup in 2017, when they lost a close encounter against England in the final.

But despite the heartbreak, the gutsy performance by the Indian women’s team caught the eyeballs of an entire nation. For some time at least, it was the women’s team that overshadowed their male counterparts in terms of public attention.

However, in the intervening period since then, despite the Women in Blue continuing to perform well not just in India, but overseas, most notably in South Africa and Sri Lanka, neither the average fan nor the cricket pundit had any time for them. They were mere cursory notes, if at all, in discussions on Indian cricket. And by Indian cricket, it always means Indian men’s cricket!

Those who justify this lack of attention to women’s cricket in the world, especially in India, by pointing out the gulf in standard between men’s and women’s cricket, should look no further than sports such as tennis, where a Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova is as much popular as a Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.

When someone like John McEnroe made a comment that if Serena were to play in men’s circuit, she would be ranked as low as 700, it drew wide condemnation from one and all. It is unjustified to compare men and women in any game.

Time to get over the heartbreak of the Loss in the Final of ICC Women's World Cup 2017

It is hoped that the deeply ingrained patriarchal attitude will slowly give way to appreciation of a player’s skills, rather than making the gender of the player the central focus. With the T20 World Cup beginning on 9 November, it’s time the media pays attention to our women in blue.

India may have been placed in a tough group with three-time champion Australia and two-time runner up New Zealand. But this Indian team has a strong core with the likes of Harmanpreet Kaur, Mithali Raj, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma and an exciting new talent in Jemimah Rodrigues.

They are all match-winners. As they showed in the 2017 World Cup, this team has the capability to get it past any team. It has scant respect for the opposition’s reputation or pedigree.

The Indian Women in Blue certainly have a realistic chance of lifting a first-ever World Cup. It’s time the nation stands behind them in their quest for glory.