New Delhi - Where the men failed, India is hoping its female
cricketers can blaze to glory when they face England in the World Cup final on
Images of captain Mithali Raj and star batswoman Harmanpreet
Kaur adorned the front pages and the team was hailed on social media after
India stunned defending champions Australia in Thursday's semi-finals.
Kaur hit an unbeaten 171 to propel India into the final at
Lord's, England's spiritual home.
The win comes as a welcome boost with India in need of
cricket cheer after the men's team capitulated to Pakistan in the Champions
Trophy final last month.
The performance came as no surprise to former players who
believe Indian women's team is destined for the big time.
"Hats off to Harmanpreet. It's a great victory for the
India women's cricket team and for women's cricket in India," former team
captain Diana Eduljee told NDTV.
"I thank the girls for the opportunity they have given
to all women cricketers and the future of women's cricket is now here to stay
"I am sure this victory is going to be historic as we
have already beaten New Zealand, Australia and England. I'd think the World Cup
is already in India irrespective of whatever happens on Sunday," added
Kapil Dev, who won the World Cup with the men's team, said
he was "filled with pride" after seeing the women in action against
Kaur, who last year became the first Indian woman to play in
the women's Big Bash League in Australia, grabbed the limelight with a 115-ball
innings laced with 20 fours and 7 sixes.
Unanimously described as an "unforgettable knock"
by one and all on social media, Kaur's efforts saw India enter their second
final of the women's World Cup after they were beaten by Australia at Centurion
"This is a genuinely Kapil-Dev-at-Tunbridge-Wells kind
of innings," leading Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle tweeted, comparing
it to Dev's 175 against Zimbabwe in a 1983 World Cup league match. "Hope
it inspires other young girls to follow."
ESPNcricinfo senior editor Sharda Ugra termed the win as a
"turning point" in Indian women's cricket, but said the team and
Kaur's performance did not come as a surprise.
"We knew that there is a new generation of young
players who play it like a modern game," he said.
"They are physical, they field well, are aggressive.
They are like 21st century kind of women. I think it was this particular
innings and this particular game that will prove to be the turning point of
Indian women's cricket."
Indian women's were always a force to reckon in the 11th
edition of the women's World Cup with Raj leading from the front as the
tournament's second highest run-getter.
Raj, 34, became the first batswoman to score 6 000 runs in
one-day internationals in the league game against Australia, surpassing the
record previously held by England's Charlotte Edwards (5992).
"She has been a very big influence in the sense of her
presence and the fact she is such a big figure in the women's game," Ugra
said of Raj, who averages over 50 in 185 ODIs and 10 Tests.
"She has sort of set a standard in excellence that
everyone should aspire for."