The Indian women’s cricket team let slip a historic title triumph with nerves getting the better of it in a tense summit clash against England, leaving Mithali Raj’s giant-slaying side with the runners-up tag for a second time in the ICC World Cup on Sunday.
It was an anti-climactic result for India since they were well on course for a memorable triumph, sitting pretty at 191 for three in 42.5 before a batting collapse saw them bowled out for 219 in 48.4 overs.
Needing just 38 runs off 43 balls, the Indian lower middle order committed hara-kiri losing seven wickets for 28 runs in 5.5 overs.
Opener Punam Raut (86) and Harmanpreet Kaur’s (51) steady half centuries had set the platform but once they departed it was far from a smooth ride as England’s consistent strikes turned it into a cliff-hanger.
Veda Krishnamurthy (35 off 34 balls), Sushma Verma’s (0) and Jhulan Goswami (0) were dismissed in space of nine balls.
Krishnamurthy had raised hopes with a cameo but her sloppy shot selection off Anya Shrubsole in the 45th over changed the script as it exposed the tailenders to a pressure situation which they could not cope with.
Nevertheless, Indian women team emerged as a force in world cricket with some inspiring performances such as Harmanpreet Kaur’s fearless strokeplay.
However, it was one last chance for captain Mithali and veteran Jhulan Goswami to have a World title in their cupboards. India were making their second appearance in a World Cup final. They lost their previous final, against Australia in Centurion, by 98 runs in 2005.