Mithali Raj : Winning World Cup will help future of women's cricket in India

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Mithali Raj : Winning World Cup will help future of women's cricket in India

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SportsCafe Desk

07/21/2017

After beating Australia in the World Cup semi-final yesterday, Indian skipper Mithali Raj acknowledged that winning the tournament will help the health of women's cricket in India. Raj also termed Harmanpreet Kaur’s belligerent 115-ball 171* as the greatest by an Indian woman cricketer in history.

Harmanpreet Kaur’s unbeaten 115-ball 171 set the tone for India’s 281/4 in the rain-curtailed match in Derby. After that, Australia tried hard through Elyse Villani (75), Ellyse Perry (38), and Alex Blackwell (90), but failed to chase down the total and were dismissed for 245 in 40.1 overs. The victory helped India reach the ICC Women's World Cup final after a gap of 12 years and Raj, who is the only survivor from the 2005 final alongside Jhulan Goswami, claimed that a win for the Indian team in Sunday's final could be a watershed moment for women’s cricket in India.

"If we pull it off it's a big thing back in India. As I mentioned earlier it's a big thing for women's cricket in India. Everybody has always emphasised that we need to win ICC tournaments, we need to have one cup of the ICC tournament so this is the stage and this is the platform," she said on Thursday, reported Cricbuzz.

"Now that the team has done well, in the run up to the finals everybody will be glued to the television on Sunday. If we can pull it off nothing like it, I probably wouldn't have a word to describe it. It definitely will help the future of women's cricket.”

Mithali Raj

"Now that the team has done well, in the run up to the finals everybody will be glued to the television on Sunday. If we can pull it off nothing like it, I probably wouldn't have a word to describe it. It definitely will help the future of women's cricket.”

India will lock horns with hosts England in the final at Lord’s on Sunday. Tickets for the final have already been sold out and around 26,500 people are expected to turn up for the title clash. The match is expected to be telecasted live in more than 200 territories and the final is going to be an occasion to savour for the Women cricketers, who don’t often get the limelight they deserve.

Echoing the same thoughts, Raj said, "I'm sure it's going to be a different experience to what I have faced in 2005. Back then it wasn't as big a base as it is now. I think in 2005 hardly anybody knew that India have qualified for the final because they were all too involved with men's cricket, nobody really paid attention to the Indian women's team. 

“The match wasn't televised as well so we couldn't really garner that many viewers at that point of time. But now you know it will be a big achievement for the girls if they pull it off. I personally feel the girls need to enjoy being in an atmosphere like that. Each one of them will be the lucky ones to be a part of the finals to play at Lord's, because every cricketer dreams of playing there because of the history."

Raj has been the vital cog in taking women's cricket forward and the mantle is now being superbly carried forward by Harmanpreet and Smriti Mandhana. The Indian captain believes that the opportunity the duo got in Women's Big Bash League in Australia has transformed them as cricketers.

"I think the transformation (came) after she played in the WBBL. That exposure (given to) her and Smriti (was important), a lot of knowledge of interacting with other players," Raj said. "As I mentioned in the last press meet, against Australia it was they who were giving us more inputs about these players.

"If more players are a part of these leagues where they exchange ideas and follow the routine of other players (and) being part of the meetings, it will only help improve the standard of women's cricket as well as it's very beneficial for youngsters and players from Indian team," Raj concluded.

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