This year, on March 8, India created history when they reached the ICC Women’s World T20 finals for the first time. Playing the four-time champions Australia in the final on their home soil was not going to be easy. Add to that a record crowd of 86,174 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, it was expected to be a cracker of a contest between the Women in Blue and the defending champions.
However, in the end, it turned out to be a rather lopsided affair as Harmanpreet Kaur and co. failed to put up a fight against the mighty Aussies who played as if they ruled the game. India had beaten Australia in the league stage of the World Cup and had also emerged invincible during the round-robin. But somehow, the Indians could not hold on to their nerves in the final when they met the same opposition, the side to which they had handed a defeat early in the tournament.
India with a relatively young side averaging just 23 years went into the World T20 having teams like Australia and New Zealand in their group. Riding on a fantastic all-round performance throughout the four matches in the league, India ended up on the top of the table. The performance of the Women in Blue indicates that there was no dearth of talent and skill in the side, but probably what the team lacked was the experience and the exposure to play competitive cricket in front of a jam-packed stadium.
Though India has never been very comfortable in the shortest format of the game, the girls are taking long strides in making T20 cricket their own. It can be said that T20 in Indian women’s cricket is still in its nascent stage if we compare it to say Australia and England.
So, what can be done to improve Indian women’s T20 cricket?
The simple answer to this relatively difficult question would be to allow our women cricketers to participate in as many T20 competitions as possible. As of now, the women’s T20 league, something like an IPL, is missing in India. Efforts are being made to come up with women’s IPL but it is not yet materialized. Meanwhile, the BCCI can encourage the women players to go out there and play as much T20 cricket as possible. Players like Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana are already playing the WBBL in Australia and Kia Super League in England. With the advent of ‘The Hundred’, it will not be a bad idea to permit the girls to play the tournament that will be held in England in July 2020.
There is no doubt that Indian players are as skilled and are as talented as their international counterparts, but probably what is the major difference between India and other top cricket playing nations is the amount of exposure… Click To Tweet
Though the Indian women’s team is making quite some progress at the international level, there is still a yawning gap between domestic cricket and international cricket. Till the time this gap is bridged, it is important that the Indian players go out, get some experience of the cricket that is played outside their land and hone their skills.
A format like ‘The Hundred’ is definitely not bad for starters, as the competition will hit two birds with one stone; number one, it will give a chance to Indian players to rub shoulders with their international counterparts and number two, the Women in Blue will get the opportunity to play in front of a larger crowd, which will test their temperament and help them to hold their nerves in pressure situations.