Modernised Indian women’s team have a reputation to protect against Pakistan

The Indian women’s team are off to a flying start in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 with two comprehensive victories over hosts England and current Women’s World T20 champions West Indies. Their next match is against arch-rivals Pakistan in a clash where they would look to maintain their domination over Pakistan as they have on the previous occasions.

The two neighbouring countries have a history of nine ODIs between them. However, the Indian women have dominated their Pakistani counterparts comprehensively ever since the two teams first faced off in an ODI back in 2005. Two of those nine clashes have come in World Cups — 2009 and 2013 — with India romping on to thumping victories on both occasions.

When it comes to ODI clashes among the men’s teams, India-Pakistan matches always keep fans on tenterhooks. Fans do not know what to expect as both teams have been equally formidable over the years, making the task of predicting a winner seemingly impossible. Matches between the two have always provided us with those cliffhanger moments that every cricket fan craves for.

However, when it comes to a clash between the women’s teams it has always been a one-sided affair, as is evident by the victory margins of the nine clashes in favour of India: Seven wickets, six wickets, 10 wickets, 207 runs, 182 runs, 103 runs, 80 runs, 10 wickets and 193 runs.

So, what’s the reason behind this overwhelming domination of the Indian women’s team over their Pakistani counterparts?

The reason can be attributed to time, big-match experience and maturity as a team. The Pakistani women’s team made their first international appearance in 1997 — 19 years after their Indian counterparts did so. Time played a huge role in determining the state the two teams are in at present. By the time Pakistan made their first international appearance, the Indian team had already had significant big-match experience having played in as many as three World Cups.

20 years since Pakistan’s debut, while the team is making just its third appearance at a World Cup, India are playing in their eighth. Having been one of the most consistent sides in the history of the Women’s World Cup, the Indians haven’t missed an edition since 1993. In fact, barring the 2013 edition at home, they have reached at least the semi-final stage every time since 1993 with their best run coming in 2005, when they ended up as the runners-up.

On the other hand, the Pakistan team haven’t been able to acclimatise to big-match pressure completely. Their best result was when they came 6th in the 2009 edition. Moreover, they have also missed out on playing two World Cups since 1997 and that gives a measure of how far behind they are lagging compared to India.

The Indian women’s team are now a completely modernised team. They have adapted to the modern fast-paced version of limited overs cricket pretty well and have identified what it takes to get the better of the best teams in the business. However, the Pakistani team seem to be lagging almost a decade behind the modern version of cricket. They still seem to be in the same grove of slow run-rate, age-old length bowling with little or no variations at all and, most importantly, a pretty ordinary standard of fielding.

The Indian women have shown how to adapt to situations. Being a young side, their fielding is superb. Moreover, their bowlers are very skillful and know when, what, and most importantly, how to execute their plans. Not to mention that players like Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur are redefining batting for women’s cricket.

In the two matches that both the teams have played in the ongoing edition of the tournament so far, India have won both their matches while Pakistan have lost. Both of India’s victories were quite comprehensive. First, they humbled hosts England by 35 runs and then went on to breeze past the West Indies by seven wickets. Pakistan, however, were unfortunate to end up on the losing side of a close match against the South Africa women’s team where they lost by three wickets. However, they were completely outclassed by England in the second match with the hosts handing them a 107-run defeat by DLS method.

When India and Pakistan take on each other for the 10th time overall and the third time in a Women’s World Cup match on Sunday, there will be plenty of fans who will come out to support both the sides. Green and blue colours will take over the stadium on that day. However, it looks like only the blue colour is going to prevail at the end.

(This article first appeared on Firstpost on July 1, 2017)

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