Step aside boys, this time it is the girls who steal the limelight in England
When Smriti Mandhana was growing up, she dreamt of seeing her name in the newspapers. Her brother Sravanth who played in age-group cricket for Maharashtra did often appear in the sporting columns. "The only two things that could help me get my name in the papers was either playing cricket or being in Bollywood," Mandhana, who is 18, said in an interview after beating the English team in their home. That is an impressive achievement to have in one’s CV. "If you scored 96% marks in grade 10, your name will only be in the paper once and then it’s over. So that is the reason I started playing cricket."
That is how it started. The Wormsley test was Maldhana’s debut. It was the first test match that the Indian eves were playing since 2006. Maldhana scored a crucial second innings 50 to help set up the chase of 181 last Saturday. Her name is all over the newspapers now. Her brother Sravanth, not so much. He probably didn’t graduate from the group stage.
The Indian men’s team playing roughly 150 miles away in the Kensington Oval had to endure the worst defeat of their lives on Monday. Frankly, it’s no good comparing the men’s and women’s team and declaring one better than the other. That is not the intention of this writer. The defeat shall be dissected by many a columnists. But let us all cricket lovers take a moment to realise how important this victory is for Indian women’s cricket. It became news, excited us all and died down soon after the breaking news ticker disappeared on TV.
Playing their first test after a gap of 8 years, with 8 débutantes in the playing 11 and beating the home team in the only test match in the series is simply incredible. Poems can be written on this feat. The skipper Mithali Raj who is among the 3 players who has played test cricket before says- “I definitely feel like a débutante because I have so many young girls around.” Mithali Raj should be commended for converting the young team’s enthusiasm to victory.
Let me introduce you to a dumbfounding fact. The Indian women’s team started playing professional cricket in 1976 and this win under Mithali Raj marks the 4th test victory overall. I’m still trying to figure out the meaning of “single test series” that the women’s team is made to play. Also I’m not sure if this has ever happened before that both the men’s team and women’s team played the same opponent country in their home simultaneously in the same format. One team surrendered without showing any spine, and the other outwitted the opponent and brought glory.
An all women squad, with no man even in the support staff has shown us a new meaning of guts and has managed to break new ground. They are now rearing to go for their 3 match ODI series starting August 21st.
Step aside boys, this time it is the girls who steal the limelight in England.