As we prepare to watch another semifinal clash at the ICC World T20, one can’t help ask the same question again—when will Indian women's team become serious contenders for the title? When will our cricket-loving nation get to cheer in tandem for both the men's and women's cricket teams at this global stage?
The BCCI in all its capacity has been keen to support the women and help the game grow. The ICC with its global initiatives is looking at India and other subcontinental teams to develop further for their initiatives to get a fillip. The very fact that women's matches, especially India’s, have been scheduled as double-headers and same-day broadcasts, provide an opportunity to the broadcaster to build the momentum for the respective teams and provides a platform for women to gain wider exposure. The broadcast of matches from Australia, where there were double-headers, provided the platform leading into to the World T20. The much-awaited contest between India and Pakistan beamed on the same day, the women playing ahead of men again at Mohali; both in a must-win situation, helps create that support base and the excitement around the sport.
The world cannot stop heaping praise on the indomitable Virat Kohli. Though it was not the first time that he has won the match for India, the sheer stage and importance of the contest was perfect enough for him to remind us of his indomitability.
The stuff that champions are made of comes with a lot perseverance and hard work, and unquestionable dedication and willingness to push beyond the limit. It is for that one moment that you perspire to sharpen your skills with hours of labour, just to put your hand up, while the world applauds your champion effort. A sport provides that platform where champions are recognised. A sport creates that aura, which the world recognises and appreciates. All that the sport demands is to be more disciplined and hard-working towards it.
The Indian women's team will rue another missed opportunity. The last three World T20s have made the Indian women's team's position vulnerable and appear a weak link in the country’s domination in world cricket.
They started their campaign in style with a comprehensive win over the lesser experienced Bangladesh. The victory raised the expectations and hope that maybe this was the perfect start to a grand contest. The approach and display in their next game against Pakistan women set the connoisseurs of cricket question their own beliefs. The team completely lacked expression and went down again to the team they had lost earlier in World T20 in Sri Lanka, in 2012. The match against the 2009-winners England became important for survival. A poor all-round display created a bitter feeling among the followers. Sitting in the media box which is next to the commentator’s box at Dharamsala, I was being bombarded with questions and accusations about their approach. Ordinary batting display, lack of fitness showing in their ground fielding and running between wickets and no visible game plan saw an unpleasant end to the close finish. The match at Mohali against West Indies became a knockout. West Indies had not had a great tournament till now and there lay an opportunity. Home support was always going to be there as the game was preceded by the men’s match against Australia. Breaking hearts and hope again the women's team went down to West Indies and saw another exit in the championship.
With all support and facilities available the efforts raise more questions that need to be addressed. Accountability of the people entrusted with the responsibility and professionalism expected from the players will need some hard look in. A few strong and bold decisions for improvement will be required as Indian women still need to qualify for the ICC 50-over World Cup to be held in England in 2017. After all, we love our cricket and we want both men's and women's teams to be known as nothing but champions.