India captain Mithali Raj praised her "inexperienced" team for putting up a tough fight against England in the final of the ICC Women's World Cup at The Lord's on Sunday. The Indian women's team crumbled under pressure to lose the match by 9 runs against the hosts, who claimed their fourth title. Mithali, however, said she was proud of her girls for coming up with some terrific performances throughout the tournament and hoped that this will now inspire people in India to "look up to women cricketers". (Match Highlights)
"It wasn't easy for England but credit to them for holding their nerve. They did well in those crunch moments which turned the game. I want to tell my girls that I am very proud of them. They didn't make it easy for any of the teams. I am sure people at home would now look up to women cricketers," Mithali said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
It was a case of so near and yet so far for the Indian women as they suffered a batting collapse to lose in their second World Cup final. India were well on course for a memorable triumph, sitting pretty at 191 for three in 42.5 overs before a middle and lower order batting collapse saw them bowled out for 219 in 48.4 overs. Needing just 38 runs off 43 balls, the Indian lower middle order committed harakiri losing seven wickets for 28 runs in 6.5 overs.
Mithali said her team's "inexperienced" batters couldn't hold their nerves.
"The batting was a little inexperienced and they couldn't hold their nerve in the end overs. I am sure this experience will help the batters," she said.
The skipper also lauded "world class" pacer Jhulan Goswami and said the 34-year-old, who is the leading wicket-taker in women's ODI cricket history, was an inspiration to many budding cricketers back home.
The Bengal pacer today played an important role in restricting England to 228/7. Goswami ripped through the English middle-order with back-to-back dismissals of Sarah Taylor and Fran Wilson. A former ICC Player of the Year, Goswami finished her spell with impressive figures of 3/23 in the allotted 10 overs, which included three maidens.
"Jhulan is a class bowler, she has shown it a number of times. Jhulan has had an excellent career, very long and inspirational for young cricketers," she said.
Mithali, who had earlier said that this would be her final World Cup appearance, thanked the crowd in England for turning up in large numbers to support women's cricket.
"I do see myself playing for a couple of years but I don't see myself playing another World Cup. I would also like to thank the crowds for coming up in large numbers to support women's cricket," Mithali concluded.