Not many may know this with the exception of the most ardent of cricket fans but India has a women’s national cricket team as well and one that has been punching above its collective weight over the years. The Indian women’s cricket team played its first ever test in 1976 against the West Indies and its one day international (ODI) debut came during 1978 World Cup, in which it was the host as well thus making it the first cricket world cup to have been staged in India. The team played its first ever T20 international in 2006 against England, which was its first opponent in ODIs as well. Right now the team is ranked at the fourth spot on the international rankings list.
Till date, the team has played 36 tests and won 5 of them while losing 6 games and drawing in 25 games. In the ODI arena it has played 241 games winning 132 matches and losing 104 of them. 2017 has been a better year with India scoring 12 wins out of 13 games. As far as twenty 20 internationals (T20Is) are concerned the team has won 37 out of 73 games. Till date, before 2017 World Cup, India has played in eight of the 10 editions and its best result has been a runner’s up finish in 2005 World Cup that was held in South Africa. It has played in all the editions of World T20 so far and it has managed to reach the semi finals in the 2009 and 2010 editions.
In regional cricket, India has been a veritable superpower. It has become champions in each and every edition of Asia Cup in the 50 over version (2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2016) and the 20 over version (2012 and 2016) as well. In the tests the team has won all its tests against South Africa but never managed to win any game against Australia and New Zealand. In the ODI form it has won every game against Bangladesh, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, and Pakistan while it has won the least percentage of games against Australia. In the T20 form it has won all the games against Bangladesh and South Africa while its success rate is the lowest against England.
The two most identifiable members of India’s women’s national cricket team are Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami. Raj remains the highest run getter of the present team in tests with 663 runs at 51 to her credit. In the same way, Goswami remains the highest wicket taker with 40 wickets at 16.62 in her kitty.
In the ODI form Raj once again leads with 5959 runs at 51.81, followed by Harmanpreet Kaur (1720 runs at 33.72), Poonam Raut (1335 runs at 31.04), and Jhulan Goswami (950 runs at 13.57). Goswami also leads the bowling charts in this format with 188 wickets at 21.96 followed by Ekta Bisht who has collected 69 wickets at 19.46.
Mithali Raj once again is the highest scorer for India in T20Is with 1708 runs at 37.95 followed by Harmanpreet Kaur (1223 runs at 24.95), Veda Krishnamurthy (470 runs at 16.78), Smriti Mandhana (424 runs at 17.66), and Jhulan Goswami (391 runs at 14.73). Goswami is the leading wicket taker in this format as well with 50 wickets at 20.90 to her name. Next in line are Ekta Bisht (45 wickets at 14.84), Poonam Yadav (34 wickets at 12.29) and Anuja Patil (21 wickets at 20.28).
It seems that in the years to come Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, and Ekta Bisht are going to be the names that will play a principal role in taking the team forward to greater heights.
The vexing question of importance
One of the major issues that faces women’s cricket in India is the question of recognition and importance. It is not held at the same breath as the men’s team. Well, to be fair to one and all, the Indian women’s national cricket team is yet to win any major international cricket trophy like the men’s team that already has three world cups and a Champions Trophy in its kitty. One feels that a major win might spark some interest in the women’s game. A big way to sustain it would be to start a league on the lines of IPL. In fact, Australia and England already are running successful t20 leagues for women. India could follow their lead and get the top cricketers from around the world to play over here so that people can get interested. All this could get in the sponsors for the women’s game as well and it could thrive as a result.