The Jhulan Goswami-led Indian women's cricket team might have finished third in the recently-concluded ICC Women's World Cup in Australia, but the team returned home on Monday afternoon on a high as they defeated pre-tournament favourites and holders Australia in their own backyard not once but twice — first in the Super Six and then in the third place play-off.
“Beating Australia was one of the best things to have happened to Indian women's cricket,” said coach Sudha Shah from Chennai. “Beating them the second time was like a double whammy,” said Sudha.
India won the Super Six match by 16 runs before downing the hosts again by three wickets for the third place. Mithali Raj — India's most successful run-getter with 248 runs at an average of 62.00 — told HT from Delhi that, “Beating Australia was very satisfying, especially since we had lost to them 5-0 late last year. Australia, being favourites, were under pressure.
They had lost to New Zealand under D/L method in the earlier round. We just had to play positive cricket.
“Our batting looked positive from the start with Anagha Deshpande and Anjum Chopra raising 69 for the opening wicket, which helped us reach 234 for five in the Super Six tie.
Getting 200-plus would always put any team under pressure. That win has changed the scenario of Indian women's cricket.”
With these two wins, India's record of victories against Australia has risen to seven from 34 clashes since 1978.
“Earlier, we found it difficult to beat Australia. Now that mental block has been removed,” said Sudha.
Despite slipping one place from the previous World Cup in South Africa (2005) where India finished runners-up, Sudha is not really concerned. “We dropped just one place, while Australia slipped from one to four.”
The team's next international assignment is the World T20 that will be held correspondingly with the men's competition in England.