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ICC World Cup 2019: Best of luck from Women in Blue

Top India women’s team cricketers come forward to wish their male counterparts as they gear up to take on the 10 best cricketing nations in the ICC World Cup 2019 in England.

cricket Updated: May 29, 2019 11:34 IST
Shalini Gupta
Shalini Gupta
New Delhi
ICC World Cup 2019,India women's team,Mithali Raj
India Women’s cricketers Harmanpreet Kaur (L) and Smriti Mandhana(C) with India Men’s team captain Virat Kohli.(BCCI)

When Virat Kohli & Co will be fighting it out in England for the World Cup, the Indian women’s cricket team will be polishing their game at a training camp at home. After a hard day’s work, they are sure to gather in the evenings to watch India’s progress. They will be hoping that the men in blue not only reach the final—just the way they did in the 2017 Women’s World Cup, also in England, where they lost to the home team—but also win it. Speaking to HT, 11 members of the Indian women’s ODI squad pick their favourite moments from past men’s World Cups, and their second favourite team—after India—to win this one.

Cricket is a funny game(Mithali Raj, 36, ODI captain)

My father is a very dedicated cricket fan. I grew up watching matches on TV with him at home. World Cup matches were always special. The 1996 World Cup was happening at home, I was 14, and there was this buzz and hype about it. I clearly remember watching the India-Pakistan quarter-final with my father. Ajay Jadeja had played well for India in the slog overs batting first. Then the Pakistan openers, Saeed Anwar and Aamir Sohail, were swatting our bowlers all around the park in Bangalore. I was really nervous and praying for a breakthrough. Sohail hit Venkatesh Prasad for a four through the covers and said something nasty to him. The next ball, Prasad clean bowled him. I was dancing after that and celebrating. I remember my father telling me, “cricket is a funny game”. The next year I was in the India women’s World Cup probables. It felt unbelievable back then.

If not India, then: England

Heartbreaker (Jhulan Goswami, 36, right-arm fast)

New Delhi: Indian women's cricket bowler Jhulan Goswami, women's cricket captain Mithali Raj, team Baahubali's Ramya Krishna and Shobu Yarlagadda, actor Rajkummar Rao, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli. ( IANS )

The first World Cup I watched was way back in 1992, when it was first played in coloured clothing with white balls. We would wake up early morning to see the matches taking place in Australia. I was 10 years old, and I went crazy about cricket.

The most profound memory I have is from 1996, when India lost to Sri Lanka in the semi-final in Kolkata. I remember we were all—my father, mother, younger brother and sister—watching the game at home on a small TV. Sachin Tendulkar was playing well and India were cruising. Suddenly he got out and a few wickets fell. India were in trouble when it turned ugly at the Eden Gardens. People started throwing stuff at players on the ground. It was heart-breaking to see a crying Vinod Kambli walking out from the ground. We did not even eat dinner that evening.

If not India, then: England

When Dhoni hit that six…. (Smriti Mandhana, 22, opener)

April 2, 2011: Mahendra Singh Dhoni hits the historical six to win Cricket World Cup 2011 at the Wankhede Stadium. ( AFP )

I was 14 when India reached the final of the 2011 World Cup. I saw the game between India and Sri Lanka on TV with my father and brother at home. When MS Dhoni hit that winning six, lofting Nuwan Kulasekara over long-on, we all went berserk.

Earlier, I would hear stories about India winning the World Cup in 1983. It felt great to be able to see India do it again in 2011. This made me more determined to become a professional cricketer and play for India one day. That image of Dhoni hitting the winning six will always be alive in my mind. I hope India do it again in England under Virat Kohli. He can do it for India.

If not India, then: Australia

I was dancing in the stands! (Taniya Bhatia, 21, wicket-keeper)

My all time favourite World Cup moment happened during the semi-final between India and Pakistan in Mohali back in 2011, when Zaheer Khan took last man standing Misbah-ul-Haq’s wicket to bowl out Pakistan. I was at the stadium, and I was dancing in the stands! I was 12 or 13 and anticipating India’s win to reach the final. The fact that it was my home ground made it more special. Sachin Tendulkar was given 4 or 5 lifelines during that game. When India won, Mohali and Chandigarh erupted in joy. People were there on the streets in their cars with India flags till late night. Beating Pakistan is always special and if it’s the World Cup, it’s superb. I am hoping India beat Pakistan again at the 2019 World Cup and the ritual continues.

If not India, then: West Indies

Klusener was my hero (Shikha Pandey, 30, right-arm fast)

Lance Klusener and Morne Morkel (r) chat in the nets during the South African national cricket team training session at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on December 23, 2015 in Durban, South Africa. ( Getty Images )

It was incredible when India defeated Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa (in the group stage). I was 13 and I had started understanding the game better by then, and the kind of fearless cricket India played in that particular match was great. I will never forget that six Sachin hit over backward point off Shoaib Akhtar.

I actually started following cricket in 1999, the previous World Cup. I wouldn’t miss any of the South Africa’s games. I would give up playing with my friends in those summer holiday evenings just to watch Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener play. Klusener was my hero back then. I would imitate his bowling action and his mannerisms while batting a lot.

If not India, then: New Zealand.

Hope Dhoni wins us the cup (Veda Krishnamurthy, 26, right-hand bat)

MS Dhoni hitting the ball for a six and winning the World Cup for India was the best World Cup moment for me. I watched the match on TV with my family. After a long time, the World Cup was taking place in India and everyone was anticipating India’s triumph. Obviously India winning was the best thing that day. I remember celebrating, I burst crackers. Though I have gone into a no-cracker rule after that day, but that day was special. Hoping Dhoni does something similar to this and wins us the Cup again!

If not India, then: England

Rohit Sharma can win games all by himself (Harleen Deol, 20, all-rounder)

Rohit Sharma plays a shot during the fourth one-day international (ODI) cricket match between India and Australia at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali on March 10, 2019. ( AFP )

Yuvraj Singh had a superb 2011 World Cup. When he and MS Dhoni were batting in the final against Sri Lanka, I was really hoping and praying that Yuvi hits the winning runs. But when a finisher like Dhoni is on strike, he likes to do the honours himself. My cousins and me had gathered at my house in Mohali to watch the final. As soon as Dhoni hit that shot over long on, the look on his face said it all. It has to go down as the best moment in the history of sport in India. It still gives me goosebumps when I see that shot either on TV or online.

With a batsman like Virat Kohli at the helm, India will be the team to watch out for this time. Rohit Sharma will be crucial too; he can win a games for India all by himself.

If not India, then: Australia

Spinners will be key for India (Radha Yadav, 19, left-arm spinner)

Dhoni hitting the six at Wankhede against Sri Lanka in the 2011 final has to be my favourite. The way Gautam Gambhir and Dhoni were batting it looked like India would re-create history on that day.

England might have good fast bowling conditions, but I think spinners will play a crucial role in the middle overs. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal’s partnership will be a key for India. They can both bat as well.

If not India, then: England

This time for Dhoni (Poonam Yadav, 27, leg-spinner)

Mahendra Singh Dhoni misses the ball as he bats during the 2019 Cricket World Cup warm up match between Bangladesh v India at Sophia Gardens stadium in Cardiff, south Wales. ( AFP )

The scenes after India beat Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup at the Wankhede ground in Mumbai are still very much alive in my mind. The way man-of-the-tournament Yuvraj Singh said that he wanted to win the World Cup for Sachin Tendulkar, and then the whole team lifting Sachin on their shoulders was fantastic. I got very emotional watching that on TV. The way the Indian team won it for Sachin back in 2011, now the Virat-led team should be doing that for MS Dhoni, who will be playing his last World Cup. Also, Dhoni is going to finish lot of games for India in England. He is in great form.

If not India, then: Australia

Electric scenes in Mumbai (Jemimah Rodriques, 18, right-hand bat)

I cannot ever forget MS Dhoni hitting that six and winning the 2011 World Cup. I was 10 years old and remember celebrating the win with my family and friends in the neighbourhood. My love for the sport grew after that title triumph. The scenes were electric in Mumbai that night.

I think Rohit Sharma will be a cricketer to watch out for in the upcoming World Cup. He is going to do well and win matches for India.

If not India, then: England

India, SA are favourites (Ekta Bisht, 33, left-arm spinner)

Even though South Africa has been a great side since 1992 World Cup, they have had dismal outings in the World Cups held in the past. The way they lost in the 2015 world cup to New Zealand was heart-breaking. The run out mix-up between Allan Donald and Lance Klusener in the 1999 World Cup semi-final against Australia is still fresh in my mind. I’ve always felt for them, and I want India to win, but I want South Africa to do well.

If not India, then: South Africa

First Published: May 29, 2019 10:23 IST