Source: The Hitavada      Date: 17 Jul 2017 11:47:02

IT IS MITHALI ‘Raj’ all the way for the Indian women’s cricket team with the experienced and highly talented Captain leading from the front the team’s ongoing World Cup campaign in England. Her strokefull and consistent batting at the top order has lent solidity so far to the team’s smooth march towards the semi-final of the major women’s cricket event. Saturday’s game against New Zealand was a do-or-die affair for both the teams for ensuring entry in the semi-finals along with South Africa, England and Australia. Batting first, Mithali Raj had to repair the damage caused by the loss of two early wickets and stay at the crease as long as she could to put up a challenging total on the board. She put behind her lackadaisical performance during the match against Australia and stepped on the pedal whenever the New Zealanders presented the opportunity. What was produced in the process was another brilliant century, on the back of which the Indian girls easily sailed into semi-finals, decimating the Kiwis. 

Of course the semi-final line-up presents no cake-walk for the Indian girls as all the three contenders at the top of the table are hot contenders for the title. Like in the earlier games, Mithali will have to produce superlative performances as she is known to have been doing in her long career. That she is the only woman cricketer to accumulate over 6000 runs in the 50 overs format and is the owner of 49 half centuries and six centuries, is a certain stamp of a great cricketing pedigree. Mithali had the distinction of scoring a century at the age of 16.

So early in her career she had begun to shine with the bat. In this men-dominated world of cricket, however, Mithali’s brilliant exploits with the willow have somehow got eclipsed. With two centuries in the current World Cup tournament, Mithali’s stamp of authority has been firmly established. She, of course, has the backing of such talented colleagues as Harmanpreet Kaur, Ved Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Punam Raut, Deepti Sharma. On Saturday, despite Mandhana and Raut’s failure at the beginning of the Indian innings, the rest of the pack batted brilliantly and with a purpose. With the bowlers breaking the back of New Zealand batting, the victory for the Indian women proved to be a cake-walk.

With such talent led by Mithali Raj, the Indian team has become a force to reckon with in women’s cricket in the world. Ever since the International Cricket Council (ICC) has taken women’s cricket under its wings and domestic boards like the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have begun to support women’s cricket, there is certainly a change for the better, especially in promoting the game among women. BCCI’s perks and facilities were much needed prop.