The independent voice of cricket

India Women v Australia Women 2022

Despite the defeat against Australia, women’s cricket in India is ready for a revolution

Sarah Waris by Sarah Waris
@swaris16 5 minute read

On paper, the Indian Women’s team’s 1-4 defeat against Australia will go down as just another lopsided series where the hosts failed to offer any fight and the world champions once again showed their might. In reality, it might have changed cricket in India forever, writes Sarah Waris.

“Stadium full, ticket over”

Let us start by busting the myth of Indians loving their cricket. Indian cricket fans have skipped meetings, filed doctored sick leave certificates, travelled miles, performed religious rites, and created sworn enemies for cricket. They have taken defeats to heart, and gone over the top to celebrate wins.

This sport, and it remains no secret, is not merely a sport for them. Like hopeless romantics, they are sucked mindlessly into its world, at times reaching the point of no return and with no escape. To most, cricket transcends emotions, standing as the purpose of life itself.


But while that is true, over the years, only men’s cricket has stirred up these sentiments. Scroll through news updates on women’s cricket, and the “who watches women’s cricket” and “why do women have to play” questions keep surfacing, along with the “not interested” remarks. A country that struggles to break free from the patriarchal hegemony and continues to live in accordance with the rules made and dictated by men for years is unlikely to open up to women in sporting attires suddenly.

The child marriage rate in India in 2022 reads 23.3 percent, highlighting how girls, mostly in rural areas come with their destinies pre-written by society. And that is just one of many relevant non-cricketing statistics.

Dare to break free and you are likely to meet resistance.

It was thus heartening to see hundreds thousands throng the two venues in Navi Mumbai and Mumbai to watch Harmanpreet Kaur & co. take on the world champions, with hundreds of thousands more tuning in to watch the action on screen as tickets were sold out. Entries were free, with the BCCI assuming the interest would remain low.

The BCCI had questioned the talent pool of women cricketers in the past. Marketing, financial rewards, matches – name a department, and they had favoured the male cricketers more. Yet they, like the fans, would have been pleasantly surprised to see the genuine interest that prevailed throughout the five T20Is.

Fans went overboard as tickets were priced for the last three encounters, possibly after the organisers realised the missed opportunity. The mid-series decision was a silent victory for women’s cricket in the country where the first Women’s IPL seems set to be staged after much ado. Questions swivel around success of the league, even inside the board, but the series proves that there are people who will keep women’s cricket safe.

Forty-seven thousand were in attendance during the second T20I, setting a record for the women’s game in India. They were in for a treat as India tied, then defeated Australia in the Super Over, becoming only the first team to register a win over them since March 2021. Despite the treatment (including the lack of a head coach as well as a bowling coach), the Indian team has managed to pull above their weight, putting forth enviable performances in the last few years.

Three appearances in global tournament finals; a semi-final showing in 2018; an Asia Cup title; fighting Test draws in England and Australia; and an ODI series win in England that culminated with Deepti Sharma running out Charlie Dean at Lord’s, have left the world talking.

It is also how they keep pushing Australia – arguably the strongest international cricket team of all time – time and again. They beat them in the semi-final of the 2017 World Cup, the league stage of the 2020 T20 World Cup, ended their record streak of 26 ODI wins in 2021/22 as well as 16 T20I wins in the recent series. In fact, they could have ended the ODI streak before, along with the series, but for a controversial call for no-ball against Jhulan Goswami.

India could also have won the Commonwealth Games final this year against Australia, if not for a last-minute customary harakiri that resulted in an eventual nine-run defeat. To put up a fight against this Australian team is laudable; to keep them on edge shows a champion side in the making.

The 1-4 defeat, however, should not be taken lightly for there are on-field issues to resolve. Without a bowling coach, the Indian bowlers had Australia on the mat at 29-1, 89-4, 46-2 and 67-4 in the last four games, but allowed them to recover to 187, 172, 188 and 196. India would need more from captain Kaur, who, ever so often, promises to deliver in big moments but is unable to see the team through. The fielding proves to be a massive difference and barring Richa Ghosh and Anjali Sarvani, the newcomers are yet to make a mark.

What the scoreline will not reveal is how India threatened to pull off upsets throughout the series. Barring the first and last T20Is, they were in the game till the end. A 2-3 margin would perhaps have reflected the difference between the teams.

However, if you look at the bigger picture, the drubbing ceases to matter. If India’s amazing run to the final of the 2017 World Cup made women’s cricket mainstream back home, the recent India-Australia T20I series demonstrated the extent of its popularity. Over the last five years, the sport has taken massive strides towards providing equal opportunities and revenue, but not as much as it should have. The skills of the team are evident and the anger due to the postponement of the Women’s IPL is palpable; voices continue to be raised by avid supporters.

Sometimes, that’s all that’s needed to bring about a revolution, and if you still have doubts, go to the highlights package and hear the chants of ‘India India’ during the Super Over clash two weeks ago by men and women who were crying out in desperation, forgetting the gender of the team. They were there because they wanted to see the Indian cricket team triumph against their age-old rivals, and nothing more. It was real. A change is around the corner, and it is real.

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