On a day when tennis ace Sania Mirza won her sixth Grand Slam doubles title at the Rod Laver Arena across the Brunton Avenue and the railway tracks, the Indian women’s cricket team warmed the cockles of many a heart by winning its second T20I against the home side by 10 wickets (under the Duckworth-Lewis system) before the men won their second T20I as well.
Clearly, the Australian women did not expect India to showcase the brand of aggression that Mithali Raj and company have done. Harmanpreet Kaur was a shining example in the Adelaide game when she seemed oblivious to pressure and steered India home. Walking in to bat at 62 for two in the 10th over and facing an asking rate of eight runs an over, she made 46 off 31 deliveries.
The Australians were outplayed on their home turf. It was the Australian women team’s first loss at home since the 2013-14 Ashes. “They played with some real freedom and obviously with that fight we know have and they showed us how to play T20 cricket today,” Australian top-scorer Alyssa Healy said.
India continued to play with freedom at the hallowed MCG, too. From seamer Jhulan Goswami’s inspired spell at the start of the Australian innings to left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad, from Anuja Patil’s fielding efforts to Harmanpret Kaur’s athleticism, from skipper Mithali Raj to fellow-opener Smriti Mandhana, the team enjoyed pulling its collective weight together.
Small wonder then, coach Purnima Rau was delighted with the team’s efforts so far. As someone who led India to its first one-day series overseas victory – back in New Zealand in 1994 – she has no mean role in inspiring the current lot to script a memorable conquest over the world champion outfit in a high-profile series Down Under.
For long, Mithali Raj has spoken up for an IPL-style tournament for women. By walking the talk with a record chase in Adelaide and a series win in Melbourne, her team may inspire the Board of Control for Cricket in India to seriously consider hosting a franchise-based T20 league for women to go alongside the Indian Premier League.
Whether that happens sooner than later or whether the Indian women cricketers have the luxury of a preparatory camp ahead of an important tour, the team’s performance in Australia will no doubt force mainstream media and fans alike to increase their support for women’s cricket in particular and women’s sport in general.