It was mainly in the 1970s that women’s cricket began to get noticed in India. It was in 1976 that the Indian women’s cricket team, under the leadership of Shantha Rangaswamy, beat their West Indian counterparts in Patna, and the very next year, the Indian skipper also became the first Indian woman to score a Test Century which she did against New Zealand and that too on foreign soil.
While Shantha Rangaswamy was lost in oblivion after her cricketing career another of her contemporaries, Diana Eduljee continues to be in the limelight. The left arm spinner being a part of the Indian Railways continued to participate actively and was also awarded the Padma Shri in 2002. In 2017, she was appointed to the BCCI administration panel by the Supreme Court of India and was largely instrumental in the temporary suspension of two Indian players who are purported to have made some unwarranted comments during a TV show.
Almost two decades after these stalwarts of Indian women’s cricket, Anjum Chopra once again rekindled the weakening flame of women’s cricket in India. While she continues to be heard by cricket fans as an able TV commentator she had the distinction of being the first Indian woman to get an international appointment when she worked with Cricket South Africa women’s team as a technical consultant in 2012-2013.
Now, that we are in the age of Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, the former has definitely taken Indian women’s cricket to new heights with a runner-up position for our team in the World Cup. Already termed as the Woman Tendulkar, Mithali has an average of 51.00, in both, Tests and Women ODIs and over 37 in T20 Internationals. With more than 6,700 runs in her bag, she is the only lady to have scored more than 6,000 runs in WODIs and 2,000 runs in WT20 Internationals and the only woman cricketer to have played in more than 200 WODIs. The achievements of Jhulan Goswami ought to go along with Mithali as the former has the distinction of having bagged the maximum wickets in WODIs. In fact, March 2012 was a red letter period for Indian Women’s cricket when Mithali and Jhulam held the ICC’s top spot in batting and bowling at the same time.
With her swashbuckling batting style, Harmanpreet Kaur became the first Indian lady to play in the Australian Big Bash League only to be followed by a youngster named Smriti Mandhana. Smriti has started a new glorious chapter in the history of Indian Women’s cricket. In June 2018, the BCCI named Smriti as the Best Women’s International Cricketer and the correctness of the decision can be gauged from the fact that in December 2018, the International Cricket Council awarded Smriti Mandhana with the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Award for the Best Female Cricketer of the Year. She was also named the ODI Player of the Year by the ICC at the same time; a never-before honour for any Indian woman.
Gp Capt Achchyut Kumar has been associated with The Teenager Today for more than 50 years as a reader and contributor on varied topics. Having worked in the Indian Air Force and with Forbes & Company Limited, he is now a lawyer in Nainital High Court.