Mumbai, Jan. 30 -- Quite often, it is after prolonged gloom that brightness appears. And for the Indian women's cricket team that is struggling with obscurity, the World Cup that sets off in Mumbai on Thursday is a great opportunity to step out of their uneventful existence.
It was about two years back that their male counterparts lifted the World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium, on that eventful night of April 2. That challenge has been passed on. With Mumbai's Brabourne stadium to host the final on February 17, can the victory of 2011 inspire the women?
Former India women's left-arm spinner Diana Edulji is hopeful of the hosts putting up at least a respectable performance. "We should make the semifinals at least. From there, it is anybody's tournament," she told HT. "It depends on the wickets we get too. Our spinners can play a big role on slow turners."
Women's cricket came under the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 2006. Yet, the situation is far from ideal. While the funds and facilities provided by the BCCI have been inadequate, the worst aspect has been the lack of action on the field.
Though the team managed a couple of practice games and camps in Bangalore and Mumbai recently, India last played international cricket in the United Kingdom last July. "The BCCI must wake up. And it will only happen if the girls do well here. Then they must get better treatment," Edulji asserted.
That the World Cup matches scheduled at the Wankhede were shifted elsewhere to accommodate the Ranji Trophy final only highlights the indifferent attitude towards women's cricket in India.
India will be playing hosts for the third time, but Edulji does not believe that will help improve the situation. "We need people to watch, and they won't come in these big metropolitan cities. These games should have been at smaller centers."
Despite that, the comfort of home conditions could work in India's favour in the 10th edition of the event. In the opener, India clash with West Indies at the Brabourne Stadium. Edulji signed off on a hopeful note. "Maybe this is the turning point. Maybe this will lay a platform for the girls in the future."
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.