And the curtains have come down!!!
What a perfect closing ceremonial final it had been!!!
What could have been more boosting for Women's cricket that the final encounter was played between three times champion and hosts, England and the most cricket enthusiast nation, India.
It was a special morning for both these countries as the stage was set in the LORD'S ground for the finals of ICC Women's World Cup 2017. LORD’S, where every cricketer irrespective of the gender has the dream to play on, is exceptionally special for Indians. Reason being the historical World Cup final win of India's Men’s team back in 1983.
As far as India Women are concerned, this was only 2nd world cup final for them. Unlike 2005, when no one knew or talked about Women's Cricket in India; media and all those associated with this sport provided them much needed recognition and thus wishes were pouring in from everywhere this time.
Be it members of men's cricket team or be it bollywood celebrities, everyone wished the best for the Women brigade.
Earlier, BCCI announced prize money of Rs 50 lakh for each of the player in an attempt to facilitate their superb performance in this tournament so far and encourage them to give their best in the finals.
The battle for the title began with the toss which was won by England's skipper Heather Knight and she elected to bat first ( India’s captain Mithali Raj also expressed the wish of batting first but explained that her team was well prepared for both - batting and bowling )
Openers gave a steady start to England as despite excellent bowling by Jhulan Goswami, they were 43/0 at the end of 10 overs.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad gave first breakthrough to India by dismissing Winfield by a superb strategical ball. Soon, Punam Yadav struck and took her first wicket in the match. English captain was the next to go back to the pavilion as India successfully reviewed an originally not-out LBW decision by the field empire.
England reached their 100 mark in 25th over due to a brilliant bowling spell by Punam Yadav.
Just when the 4th wicket partnership was building up, Goswami struck twice in the same over to dismiss Sara Taylor and Fran Wilson on consecutive balls. Though the former missed the hat-trick but she bowled outstandingly well as England were 168/6 at the end of 40 overs. England could manage 60 runs in next 10 overs to set a target of 229 runs to win for India.
India lost her star player Mandhana in 2nd over as India stood at 31/1 after 10 overs.
Indian captain M. Raj got out in 13th over by what may be termed as a poor running between the wickets. Poonam Raut and hitter Harmanpreet Kaur did just what they needed to do as India were 93/2 after 25 overs.
Both these batters went on to complete their individual 50s but just when India needed just 103 runs to win, Hartley struck for England and took the most important wicket for her team by getting rid of Kaur. Once again, England were back into the game by striking just at the right time.
Raut kept going strong as Veda Krishnamurthy joins her. The later was dropped by H. Knight in 38th over this getting a lifeline as India needed another 56 runs to in last 60 balls to create history.
But here comes another twister in the game!! Raut got LBW out in 43rd over making it 191/4 for India.
What happened in the next 6 overs was heartbreaking for every Indian. In an attempt to take an impossible run, Krishnamurthy got run out and India could never get off that blow as the tail enders fell like a pack of cards.
Final result - India lost it by just 9 runs as entire team got out on 219 in 48.4 overs.
That moment was too tough for any Cricket enthusiast to handle. On one side, India Women were all in tears and on the other, England Women could also not hold back their tears ( The tears of joy, the tears of winning a thriller World Cup final )
Indian coach Tushar Arothe was seen consoling his girls just like a father shares his daughter's defeat.
As I write this article with a heavy heart, it can be said the two golden girls of India, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami were just denied their World Cup trophy as it is unlikely for both of them to play next world cup.
But wait!!! Haved they really failed??? Absolutely not… They have surely lost the cup but won millions of hearts today. Honourable Narender Modi ji led the appreciation by the entire country for these girls by a series of 12 tweets throughout the match. From a celebrity to a common man, everyone lauded their efforts and talent and affirmed that the whole India is proud of them and stands by their side.
This is their victory, this is the beginning of a revolution in the Women's Cricket especially in India!!