Indian team clinched the inaugural ICC Women's Under-19 T20 World Cup
Written By: Ritwika Dhar
Picture Courtesy: Getty Images
How the India vs England final panned out
After two weeks of gruelling action at the inaugural Under-19 Women's T20 World Cup, two of the favourites to win the title, the two Super Six group toppers - India and England - battled it out in the final.
India were up against an unbeaten England side. After winning the toss, India decided to bowl first at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom, where the two semi-finals were also played. The pitch offered grip and turn, which is why the final was expected to be a low-scoring affair like the semis. England were coming on the back of plenty of confidence after successfully defending 99 runs vs Australia. They bundled them out for 96 and defeated them by just 3 runs. On the other hand, India beat New Zealand convincingly by 8 wickets.
Pacer Titas Sadhu started things off for India by giving the 1st breakthrough in the form of opener Liberty Heap. The spinners, later on, kept the wicket coming. Off-spinner Archana Devi not only scalped the most important wicket of England captain Grace Scrivens (4 off 12), but also took a spectacular one-handed catch to dismiss the dangerous Ryana Macdonald-Gay, who top-scored with 19 off 24. No bowler from India went wicketless as they bundled out the solid English batting line-up for just 68 runs. Titas Sadhu, Archana Devi and Parshavi Chopra picked up two wickets apiece, while Mannat Kashyap, Shafali Verma and Sonam Yadav got 1 wicket each. India were just 69 runs away from their first-ever women’s World Cup title.
In the all-important chase, when Shafali (15 off 11) and Shweta Sehrawat (5 off 6) got out early, there were some jitters around. But, Gongadi Trisha and Soumya Tiwari, who didn't get enough opportunities to show what they are capable of, showcased the best of their abilities when it mattered the most. They threaded the most important partnership of 46 runs. In the hurry to get over the finish line, G Trisha (24 off 29) was bowled by England’s left-arm pacer Alexa Stonehouse. Soumya Tiwari (24* off 37) eventually owned the glorious moment of hitting the winning run through covers. And that was it, India beat England by 7 wickets and for the first time in Women’s Cricket World Cup history were crowned the World Champions.
It was well and truly a ‘World Cup’
After three final appearances in 2005, 2017 and 2020, the Indian U19 Women's Cricket team became the 1st ever ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Champions at any level from the country on the 29th of January. India also became the team to win the inaugural Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup. Shafali Verma not just became the 1st Indian woman captain to win the cricket World Cup but also became the 6th Indian captain overall to win the Under-19 World Cup.
This was the largest women's cricket World Cup in terms of the number of participating nations. So far, the 1997 ODI World Cup hosted by India had the previous most participating nations – 11. And in this World Cup, there were 16 teams, including India. It was well and truly a ‘World Cup’, with 11 Full Member nations and 5 Associate nations.
Other Records: The Indian U-19 didn't just end the trophy drought, but also they created some important records. India are the team to score the highest total of the tournament - 219, as well as successfully chasing down the highest total the highest target of 167 in this WC.
Standout Players for India
Shweta Sehrawat: Indian opener Shweta Sehrawat was the standout player with the bat in the tournament. She ended the tournament being the highest run-scorer, with 297 runs at the tournament-best average of 99 and a strike rate of almost 140. She tonked 3 brilliant half-centuries, including the 2nd highest individual score of 92* in the opener. She played an important hand in the semi-final against New Zealand, where she saw India home with her unbeaten 61* off 45. She has a huge chance of being the highest-priced uncapped player in the upcoming WPL auction after this blistering performance in the WC.
Parshavi Chopra: This immensely talented leg spinner ended the campaign being India’s highest wicket-taker and the tournament’s 2nd-highest wicket-taker with 12 wickets. She took nine of her 11 wickets in the last three do-or-die games, with best figures of 4 for 5 vs Sri Lanka. She has a potent googly in her armoury and can already be considered one of India’s top leg spinners to watch out for.
Mannat Kashyap: This left-arm orthodox spinner was the most experienced bowler among the lot. She had the experience of playing at the senior level in the domestic circuit for several years. After not getting a chance in the opening game against South Africa, where the Proteas scored 166 runs against Indian bowlers, she showed from the next game itself why she is a must-pick. Mannat took 8 wickets, with best figures of 4 for 12 vs Scotland.
Titas Sadhu: Like Mannat, TItas was also very consistent with the ball in the entire tournament. She and Mannat bowled in tandem in the powerplay and gave the early breakthroughs regularly. Being the lone pacer, Titas had more pressure and responsibility on her shoulders to give team India a good start. And she did exactly that in the all-important final, where she dismissed England’s two in-form batters: Liberty Heap and Seren Smale while giving just 6 runs in her 4 overs. For this spectacular performance, the tall Bengal pacer has been adjudged the player of the final. She is truly taking the legacy forward of another legendary pacer from Bengal, Jhulan Goswami. Just like Goswami, Titas is also known for her tight line and length. She scalped six wickets overall in the WC. Being a pacer, Titas has also bowled the highest number of dot balls in this World Cup - 74.
Coach Nooshin Al Khadeer is in a league of her own
Indian head coach Nooshin Al Khadeer was part of the 2005 World Cup, where India reached the Women’s Cricket World Cup Final for the first time, facing Australia in the final, which was played in South Africa. She was the last wicket to fall in that failed chase, where India fell short by 98 runs. From being an important player in that World Cup with the despair of not winning the WC to winning the 1st ever World Cup for India as the coach, also coincidentally being played in South Africa, is an incredible story. A definite circle of life moment.
As a coach, Nooshin hasn’t lost any tournament since November 2019, which is a historical feat. From Mithali Raj to Harmanpreet Kaur, she has worked and won titles with various legendary Indian captains. The Indian senior team currently don't have a head coach and the WPL is also around the corner. It will be interesting to see where we see her next.
World Cup win a fruit of proper planning and investment
BCCI has done notable work in building a strong pathway till this World Cup for the U19 girls. Several camps were organized on a zonal basis and then at the National Academy in Bangalore since mid-2022. The campaign for under-19 girls kicked off with two domestic tournaments, the U-19 T20 Trophy - which is an interstate tournament - and the U-19 Challenger Trophy, which featured the best performers from the interstate tournament. After that, came the international challenge. West Indies and Sri Lanka Under-19 teams toured India to play a Quadrangular series against India A and B. India U-19 played their last home series against New Zealand Development.
The last preparatory five-match T20I series they played was against the hosts South Africa in South Africa. They got the most amount of preparation, more than any U19WC team. BCCI also injected experience by adding Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh to the squad and roping in the most successful domestic coach currently, Nooshin Al Khadeer, to head the support staff.
Former India captain Mithali Raj met the team before the World Cup and before the final Neeraj Chopra, India’s first track and field athlete to win the Olympic gold, came to the Indian camp to boost their confidence. Neeraj stayed throughout the final to cheer the girls up. There couldn’t be a better person than him to motivate these girls before a nerve-wracking event like a World Cup final. This World Cup is a testament to the proper planning and investment done by BCCI.
BCCI has also announced a cash reward of Rs. 5 crores for the players and support staff for winning the historic World Cup. They are to be felicitated at the Motera Stadium, Ahmedabad by Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar and BCCI office-bearers today, on February 1.
Great advertisement for Women's Cricket before the Women's Premier League
If the Women’s Premier League needed any advertisement, there couldn’t have been a better example to the masses than this World Cup win. Also, having the Senior Women’s World Cup from February 10 will be a huge motivation for the Indian senior players as well to repeat this feat. Two World Champions, Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh, will also be a part of the senior T20WC team.