The celebrations of the Indian fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground started early on Friday when the India women’s team scored a 10-wicket win in the second match of the Twenty20 series.
The result was dramatic as it marked their first-ever series win over Australia in any format. Making the victory all the more stunning is the fact that Australia are the World T20 champions for the last three editions.
India skipper Mithali Raj said the win was all the more important because they didn’t have enough time to prepare. “Coming into this tour, we weren’t really prepared for these Australian wickets, other than three-four of us who came here during the 2009 World Cup - which is way back.
All of them are inexperienced in Australian turf, and we also haven’t played since the 2013 warm-up game - which was a one-dayer. Considering all these factors, I think it’s a sensational win.”
The performance was also important for the women’s team because they were playing their first tournament after signing their central contracts with the Indian cricket board (BCCI).
“Well, we just signed our central contracts. I’m very happy that we proved we are worth it, deserve them. I’m sure it will be a motivation for the other players and cricketers back in India, who want to play for the nation.”
It is also the first time they were sharing the stage with the high-profile men’s team. “This is the first time that we’ve actually crossed paths, where our series are simultaneously placed, where the games are double-headers and the practice sessions are similar too. When we cross paths and when we’ve had an interaction, that has really helped.”
Mithali admitted India were the underdogs, and at the start of the series, even she had not thought they had a chance of upsetting the world champions on their home turf.
“I definitely didn’t give a thought about the result of the series. But I wanted the girls to perform well and put up a good standard of cricket. Because we’re on television and this is a platform from where we can actually promote the Indian women’s team.
“With the factors all against us, and playing against the World Champions, I gave a 20-80% (for India winning). Earlier also there were close matches with Australia, but winning it was definitely not there in my mind.”