Queenstown [New Zealand], February 22 (ANI): India skipper Mithali Raj has said that the Women's 50-over World Cup win will make a real difference for the fans in the country.
The Women's World Cup will be played from March 4-April 3 in New Zealand. India will lock horns against Pakistan in their opening match of the tournament on March 6 at Bay Oval.
India had managed to reach the finals of 2017 World Cup but the side lost the finals against England. However, that event marked a significant milestone and ever since then, the popularity of women's cricket has risen.
"I clearly remember the emotions from the final of the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup in 2017, having come so close to winning. The match against England was played in a packed Lord's stadium and to miss out on that chance is something that will rankle forever. It has been an honour to have led India to two of the three ICC finals we have reached, going back to the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2005 in South Africa. We have had several memorable performances over this period but are missing that one huge win," Mithali wrote in her column for ICC.
"We have now been the beaten finalists in the most recent 50-over and 20-over World Cup finals and have learnt so much from those experiences that we will take into this World Cup in New Zealand. We have shown that we are more than capable of winning the trophy, it is now just a case of doing it and the impact of doing so would be incredible. I can only imagine what its effect would be," she added.
Further talking about the World Cup, Mithali said: "Not only would it mean so much for the players and our families, but it would make a real difference for all our fans back home in India, where there is already great anticipation for a Women's IPL. Our fans are some of the most passionate in the world and we know that they will be watching on. I'm sure if we did win, we would be able to hear them all the way from New Zealand."
"To be recognised on the streets in my country is something I never expected when I appeared in my first World Cup in 2000, also in New Zealand, but that is now so common and shows how much the game has grown in India," he added.
Mithali also spoke about how Shafali Verma has become one of the popular stars in the country and how she has managed to grab eyeballs.
"Shafali Verma is surely one of the players being watched with great enthusiasm back home. She is one of the world's rising stars and I am backing her to have more impressive performances for India throughout the tournament with guidance and support from the stylish Smriti Mandhana at the other end. Taniya Bhatia has been very reliable behind the stumps and Richa Ghosh is hot on her heels, meaning we have two wicketkeepers we can trust," said Mithali.
"We all know what Harmanpreet Kaur can do on the world stage. Her 171 not out in the 2017 semi-final against Australia earned us a place in the final and her performances in last year's Women's Big Bash League show she is ready to do it again. We are very fortunate to be heading into this tournament having played New Zealand, Australia and England in recent months," she added.
India is currently squaring off against New Zealand in the ongoing five-match ODI series. The Mithali Raj-led side has already lost the series. (ANI)