India’s U-19 victory may herald a new era
With the Women’s Premier League set to begin in March, the triumph has given women’s cricket in India, ready to take-off in any case, just the launchpad it needed
In sport, there are triumphs that are exhilarating for their sense of occasion — a record equalled, like Novak Djokovic did at the Australian Open this weekend, a tale of retribution scripted, like Lionel Messi leading Argentina to the football World Cup last December; proof of the coming of age of a national passion, like India winning the 1983 cricket World Cup. And then there are triumphs that are crucial for what they signify in terms of unlocking potential. An impor-tant landmark was achieved on Sunday when the women’s U-19 cricket team lifted the first junior T20 women’s World Cup in South Africa. For this was both a breaker of barriers and a harbinger of what could come. The senior women’s team have gone from strength to strength over the last two decades — runn-ers-up in the ODI World Cup in 2005, they converted that flash in the pan to runners-up finishes at the 2017 ODI World Cup and the 2020 T20 World Cup. Now at the cusp of something special, they needed to find the spark that would clear the last roadblock in their way.
That moment came this month in a campaign in which the Indian women lost just one match — to Australia in the Super Sixes. It was a defeat that could have derailed them, but the women rediscovered their poise, beating Sri Lanka in the next match, pulverising New Zealand in the semi-final, and then taking quick wickets in what was seen as a tough final to blow away England for just 68. What was encouraging is that, apart from senior team stars Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh, it was Parshavi Chopra (16), Shweta Sehrawat (18), Titas Sadhu (18), G Trisha (17), and Archana Devi (18) who powered the team. With the Women’s Premier League set to begin in March, the triumph has given women’s cricket in India, ready to take-off in any case, just the launchpad it needed.