The year Indian women’s cricket came of age
Indian women’s cricket has often been seen as a footnote by both fans and administrators but 2017 showed for the first time that this is changing. The women’s team defeated strong rivals such as Australia and New Zealand in the World Cup to enter the final of the tournament earlier this year. Although they lost to England in a nail-biting final at Lords, they managed to win the hearts of countless Indian fans who were used to cheering just the men in blue. The team’s captain Mithali Raj said in a recent interview that for the first time in her career of 18 years, people recognized and greeted her.
This year not only marked the best ever World Cup performance by the team but also saw its win record reach a new peak. The team’s aggregate win percentage (in Test matches and one-day internationals or ODIs) rose to the highest level since 2000.
Like the men’s team, the women’s team also tends to perform better at home. But the gap between overseas and domestic performance has narrowed significantly over the past few years. Between 2012 and 2014, the women’s team could win less than half the matches played overseas (including those in neutral venues). But between 2015 and 2017, the team won nearly three-fourths of all matches played overseas.
2017 also marked a new personal milestone for captain Raj, who became the first woman to score more than 6,000 ODI runs. She also ends 2017 as the top-ranked batswoman.
Another Indian batswoman, Harmanpreet Kaur—whose 171 runs off 115 balls against Australia in the semi-finals of the World Cup powered India’s entry to the final—also features in the top five batswomen this year.
With cricket administrators setting up an organized calendar for women’s cricket, the future of women’s cricket in India has never seemed brighter.