Our last match of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup – the 2020 final at the MCG - was watched by 86,174 spectators! That’s inspiration enough as we prepare to begin our campaign this time.
That match, played on International Women’s Day three years ago, was a huge moment for women’s sport worldwide, as the iconic venue filled up for the Australia versus India match with fervour.
I still get goosebumps remembering that match as I think of my earlier years on the circuit and realise the kind of progress women’s cricket has made. I have played in all the T20 World Cups so far – in fact I debuted in the format at the inaugural edition in 2009– and have seen the pace of the game surge like anything.
I am sure this year’s tournament in South Africa will be ultra-competitive. Though Australia go into the tournament as favourites, there is very little separating other teams, promising close matches and high-class performances.
India have made the final of ICC senior women’s global events three times – the 50-over World Cups of 2005 and 2017 being the other occasions – and are hungry for that evasive title as we go to South Africa with high hopes and the confidence of having an outfit that can beat any team on its day.
The Under-19 team’s victory provides added inspiration. Winning any world title is huge and one will always remember this one since it was the inaugural edition of the championship. I congratulate the team for the historic victory and hope we can emulate them in the senior event.
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We have senior players as well as young guns like Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh, who are fresh from the Indian team’s victory at the Under-19 World Cup, play an attractive brand of cricket and now also have enough experience of top-class cricket. We have depth in batting and enough variety in bowling with Renuka Singh stepping up well in the pace department to do what is required against top teams.
We have been preparing well too. We won the Asia Cup and silver in the Commonwealth Games in recent months. A home series against Australia in December further gave us the opportunity to test ourselves and try our combinations against a top side.
Though we lost the series 4-1, there were enough thrills in the series for the thousands who thronged the Mumbai stadiums. The attendance in those matches also reflected the growing attention the women’s game has been able to attract in recent times.
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Now, it’s all about us putting to use our experiences, remaining focussed and not getting overawed at crucial junctures. We have confidence in our abilities and understand that we need to step up a level to be remembered as a world-beating Indian side.
The support for women’s cricket by the International Cricket Council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India has been amazing over the years and the impending Women’s IPL is surely going to take the game to the next level in India. The appetite for women’s cricket has been growing rapidly and the future is very bright in all aspects.
As for South Africa, it has several good memories for Indian fans, and we are hoping to bring them more cheer. Our men’s team played the final of the 2003 World Cup there and the women’s team followed by making the final in 2005. The Indian men’s team then did one better by winning the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. Will we be able to emulate them once again? Only time will tell, but we definitely are aiming to do that!
Column written by Harmanpreet Kaur for the ICC ahead of the Women's T20 World Cup 2023, supplied by ICC Media Zone.