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Old July 23rd, 2017, 12:19 PM
log1iszero log1iszero is offline
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Re: For cricket fans

Read on FB - we lost,..

वैसे मै क्रिकेट बिलकुल नही देखता
पर आज नौ रन से हार कर भी दिल
जीत लिया बहनो ने....
काश इनको भी पुरुष क्रिकेटटरो की तरह सुविधाये मिलती तो आज ये मैच का अंजाम कुछ और होता
पर गर्व है मुझे हमारी महिला टीम की खिलाड़ी
बहनो पर.... ,क्यूकि ...
कोशिश करने वालो की कभी हार नही होती
जय हिंद

Why this could be the 1983 moment for women's cricket

Indian women's cricket team celebrates after defeating Australia in the ICC Women's World Cup semifinal match in Derby, UK. (PTI photo)

In the world of sports, serendipity is routine. But rarely does someone light up a country, much like a comet in the sky, as Harmanpreet Kaur did last Thursday. No cricketer from India has produced a more breathtaking innings in such a key knock-out ODI World Cup game. Grace, power, self-belief, even that rare emotion in women's cricket, rage: her unbeaten 171 off 115 balls (20 fours, seven sixes) against defending champion Australia showcased it all. When did you last witness someone unfurl a cover drive on one knee and then hit sixes at will, again on one knee? Within minutes, the 28-year-old from Punjab's Moga district was lording over Twitter. Memes, puns and headlines followed: SuperHarman, Harmonster. One is only waiting for the radio show, Har(Man ki Baat).

The side-effects of Harmanpreet's knock run deeper. In many ways, she has opened up a brave new world for women's cricket. Up-and-coming cricketers always had the solidity and grace of Mithali Raj to admire and emulate. Harmanpreet has set them free. Young cricketer Ayushi Soni says she never believed a woman could hit so many sixes in an international game. "She has helped us overcome that mental barrier," says the 16-year-old opener, who plays for Delhi at both junior and senior levels. Left-arm U-19 spinner Shreya Sharma sums up the mood: "Harmanpreet showed us anything is possible."

The last time Women in Blue reached a WC final in 2005, it wasn't even televised. But Harmanpreet's knockout performance could well be a game-changer. (PTI photo)

It is not that India's women cricketers haven't excelled before. Back in 2005, the Women in Blue overcame defending champions New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final; Mithali leading from the front with an undefeated 91. But not many remember the game as it was not telecast. In an interview to TOI last year, the Indian skipper regretted the absence of any video recording of the game. Again in 2006, India vanquished England to clinch the Test series 1-0. But few watched these triumphs. Now with millions watching the 2017 World Cup live on television, the likely impact could be similar to Kapil's Dev's iconic 1983 triumph, which massified the game like never before. Even in towns without TV, the recorded final against West Indies was watched via video cassettes in tents, even movie theatres.

Both Ayushi and Shreya agree that recent TV coverage has raised public interest in the game. "Even friends who normally don't watch women's cricket called after the semi-final," says Ayushi, who adores the hard-hitting Veda Krishanmurthy. "Three years ago, people would give me a blank look when I said I play cricket. Now there's a sort of recognition," says Shreya. The ongoing World Cup is being shown live on TV in 139 countries. Sunday's final will see the quality-enhancing Spidercam being used for the first time at Lord's.

In 2006, following an ICC directive to develop women's wings in every country, BCCI took control of women's cricket. Thereafter, says Sunil Kalra, who has co-authored a book on the history of women's cricket, games began to be live streamed through internet before graduating to live television coverage.

The live telecast of Women's Big Bash League (WBBL), where sixes were struck with abandon, also made an impact. One shot over cover by Harmanpreet for Sydney Thunders was described by Adam Gilchrist as "as good a shot as you'll ever see". "But this World Cup, which is prime-time friendly, has really captured the popular imagination," says Kalra.

Not many remember, though, that women's cricket was a rage in India in the 1970s too. Former captain Shanta Rangaswamy, also the first woman cricketer to receive the Arjuna Award, recalled in an interview that it was common to see 40,000 spectators during Tests. When India took on West Indies in Patna in 1976, the stadium was crammed to its 25,000 capacity. After India won the tense encounter, people lined the streets and cheered the team riding the bus to the hotel.

After the exciting 1970s, women's cricket saw more troughs than crests in the 1980s and '90s. But in recent years, facilities have improved on several fronts, notably better travel and accommodation, enhanced match fees etc.

But now, irrespective of Sunday's outcome, Mithali and company have unleashed an idea whose time has come.

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