Indian women’s team marched into the semi-final of ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 after beating New Zealand by 186 runs in the last match of the round-robin format. The Mithali Raj-led side began the tournament on a perfect note after they defeated hosts England comprehensively while followed it by wins against West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka but lost the plot to stand on the losing podium in the next two matches on the trot. They lost to South Africa and Australia. Having won four matches and losing two, India needed to win against New Zealand in order to qualify for semis.
Mithali’s side didn’t even disappoint and riding on the skipper’s emphatic hundred posted 265/ 7 and later bundled out them for 79. Hailing her side’s performance, Mithali appreciated the team’s efforts against New Zealand on Saturday.
“The girls realised it was a must-win game for us to qualify for the semis,” Raj said, after the match. “We came back to the ground where we’ve played four games, so we know how the wicket and the outfield plays.
“The girls wanted to do well today, give their best and they knew it was one game that could get us into the semis. I’m extremely happy that the girls made a comeback,” she added.
“I think this is a new India team. In the earlier editions, we’ve seen one bad day and then we’ve never made a comeback into the tournament. This is a very good win for the girls and it will give them a real boost and a lot of confidence.”
Moreover, Mithali went on to say that the members of her team weren’t really confident after the results against South Africa and Australia but the kind of game they have played against New Zealand deserved the appreciation.
“I’m very happy and thrilled because, until yesterday, most of the girls were very down because of the performance that we displayed in the last two games, against South Africa and Australia. Of course, Indian camp was on the back foot after two games, but it’s something I have always told the girls – if you’re aiming to play the semi-finals or trying to be in the top four in the world, it’s important that we need to make comebacks after disappointments. Usually that’s what the best teams are made up of. Every time you may not win a game, but how you make a comeback is very important.”
“It’s always important that if the fast bowlers give you those couple of early wickets, then the spinners really don’t have the pressure of getting the first wicket,” Raj said. “It happened in the last two games, against Australia and South Africa, that the spinners had lot of pressute when they came in to get that one wicket. But today, when we had Suzie Bates in the second over, we knew they were already on the back foot because when you’re chasing 260-plus, the team always looks for the openers to give them a good start,” Mithali added.
India will now meet Australia in the semi-final match on Thursday. Talking about the Aussie side, Mithali suggested that they are a good side and have depth in batting and a good bowling attack.
“Australians are a very good side, very rounded side,” Raj said. “They have a lot of depth in the batting and they have good bowlers. But again it is how the team responds to the situation on that day, how we step up, because it is one game now, and if we continue to play the way we played today, there is more possibility that we can beat Australia.”
Mithali recently became the highest run-getter in women’s ODI cricket and on Saturday scored her 6th ODI ton. Talking about her knock, Mithali said that representing the country is the best feeling.
“Well, I think nothing beats representing India at the biggest stage,” she said, when asked what keeps driving her. “I’m at my peak, I’m playing well, I’ve worked on my game since the last year, I was preparing for the World Cup, and I’m happy that I’m still scoring runs for the country.”