A couple of weeks ago, the majority of the country had found it hard to wake up in the morning as they still had a hangover. Don’t worry! It wasn’t the after-effect of a booze party in any way. In fact, it was the hangover of disappointment. It was the hangover of losing something that you are very passionate about. Most importantly, it was the hangover of pain that a billion people felt after watching the Indian men’s team losing to their arch-rivals Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final on the night of June 18 2017.
Cut to 2 July 2017 – the Pakistani eves had their best chance to trump their arch rivals India for the first time in their ODI history, and most importantly, to make it the glorious year of Pakistan cricket as well.
The Indian batting line-up which had dismantled the bowling line-up of the hosts England and outclassed the current World T20 Champions West Indies, were now being tamed, controlled and outplayed by a bowling attack that had been totally demolished by the English batswomen in the previous match.
And when the Pakistani eves restricted their Indian counterparts to a paltry total of 169/9, they sensed that their golden moment might have finally arrived.
Little did they know that history would go on to repeat itself. They hardly had any idea that even a chase of 170 would prove to be an uphill task for them. However, when you take a peek into the record books you will find that the Indian eves have restricted Pakistan to a total of less than 100 on six out of the previous nine occasions.
Can’t believe your eyes? Just go, check and come back. I’ll wait to tell you the rest of the story.
The Indian eves have proved to be quite a tough nut to crack in the past couple of years, as they have shown the ability to make a comeback from the most critical situations.
It was no different on Sunday, as Pakistan’s punch only provided fuel to the fire already burning in their bellies. They came out to bowl with an attacking, positive and most importantly, winning mentality, and the result was visible as the scorecard read Pakistan being bowled out for a mere 74 runs.
No doubt it was Ekta Bisht’s spell of 5/18 that paved the way for such a memorable victory. However, it was the legacy of their predecessors that instilled the belief in them that they can repeat what has already happened again and again.
Unlike men’s cricket, in which the Indo-Pak rivalry started as early as in the 20th century, the women’s Indo-Pak rivalry took a much longer time to flourish. Their first ever contest was recorded as late as in 2005 and straight away, Pakistan were in a high-pressure match of the highly coveted Asia Cup tournament.
However, ‘pressure’ had always been an alien term to the Indian eves in the clash with their arch-rivals because they had always been the senior pro in every respect. For India already had 19 years of international experience by the time the Pakistan women’s team made their international debut in 1997.
By the time they first played India in an international match in 2005, India had already played in five high-pressure World Cup tournaments while Pakistan had played in only one.
Moreover, India haven’t ever missed a World Cup since 1993, whereas Pakistan has missed two out of the six World Cups held since their debut edition in 1997.
That tells us the whole story about how Indian women’s cricket has evolved fast with time, while Pakistan has lagged behind.
On the 10 occasions, including the most recent one, Pakistan have never even been able to put up a challenge to India. For those who would want to argue, India’s victory margins of 7 wickets, 6 wickets, 10 wickets, 207 runs, 182 runs, 103 runs, 80 runs, 10 wickets, 193 runs and finally 95 runs will bring an end to all your arguments.
(This Op-Ed first appeared on The Quint on July 3, 2017)