LONDON: India have the chance to alter the course of cricket history when they face hosts England in the Women´s World Cup final at Lord´s on Sunday.
Since the tournament´s inception in 1973 — two years before the men´s World Cup started – it has been dominated by England and Australia, with New Zealand, in 2000, the only other country to have won the event.
The final sees this year´s edition come full circle, with India having upset the form book to beat England by 35 runs in the tournament opener in Derby on June 24.
“It isn´t going to be easy for England,” promised India captain Mithali Raj after her side´s stunning semi-final win over six-times champions Australia in Derby on Thursday.
A 36-run victory over the title-holders was built on Harmanpreet Kaur´s stunning 171 not out.
An innings full of correct yet powerful shots ought to have banished any remaining stereotypes about ´demure´ women´s cricket in general and the India team in particular.
Certainly there was nothing ´ladylike´ about the fiercely competitive Kaur´s angry reaction towards batting partner Deepti Sharma after almost being run out on 98.
For Raj and India pace bowler Jhulan Goswami, the leading run-scorer and wicket-taker in women´s one-day international history respectively, this could be the last chance the two 34-year-olds have to win the World Cup.
But the significance of the day goes far beyond what it means to their cricket careers.
India´s win in the 1983 men´s World Cup final at Lord´s turned the country on to limited overs cricket and led the world´s second-most populous nation to become the sport´s financial powerhouse.
An India win on Sunday could have equally far-reaching consequences, as Raj acknowledged.