Women's World Cup 2017

In knockout match against New Zealand, India showed what ‘intent’ means on a cricket field

Mithali Raj and Co outplayed the White Ferns by a massive a 186-run margin to book a place in the semifinals.

“They need to show positive intent with the bat.”

“The match was drawn but the team showed the right intent.”

“The field placement lacked proper intent.”

“Intent”, in cricket, is a term often used but rarely explicable. A largely intangible concept – you can express it on field and talk about in the commentary box, but it does not very well translate to words or images.

But in their last league game at the Women’s World Cup, facing New Zealand in a winner-takes-all clash, India made the abstract “intent” visible with their superlative performance. In no circumstance would playing the higher-ranked formidable White Ferns be easy, a team led by Suzie Bates, the ICC Women’s ODI and T20I Player of the Year.

But it was especially hard for India coming off two big, back-to-back losses and having to bounce back in a high-pressure game. It was an enormous task, one that even captain Mithali Raj was candid about.

“India has always had the problem that when faced with the crunch matches, the team does not necessarily step up,” she had said after the abject eight-wicket loss to Australia in the last game. “The girls are so talented, but it’s just a matter of how well they pull themselves up after a defeat. That’s what makes world champions.”

But on Saturday, as India outplayed the Kiwis in every department to set up the massive a 186-run win, it became clear that this Indian team possesses that champion mentality that the captain mentioned. They stepped up, they pulled themselves together and the pressure only raised their performance level.

And in this knockout match that lasted a mere 75 overs, the Indian team illustrated what exactly the abstract “intent” means on a cricket field.

Intent was Mithali Raj handing the Rajeshwari Gayakwad her first match of tournament ahead of the experienced Ekta Bisht.

Intent was Gayakwad picking up a fifer on her World Cup debut.

Intent was Raj coming in at No 3 after another early wicket, but not sacrificing her strike-rate this time.
Intent was Harmapnreet Kaur’s swift running between the wickets that kept the scoring rate ticking.

Intent was Veda Krishnamurthy blasting her way to an stunning 70 off 45 without pausing to let the bowlers settle.

Intent was Jhulan Goswami alertly picking a return catch on her bowling follow-through.

Intent was Deepti Sharma running backwards and diving to pouch a stunning low catch.

Intent was keeping a slip in the slog overs to pile on the pressure.

Intent was the intensity with which India played the crunch game they were expected to capitulate in.

Call it intent, or resilience or character or fearlessness, this positive approach to the match even after losing toss, early wickets, a rain interruption is what made the difference in the end. And the result was there for all to see – a semi-final berth knocking a top-three team out.

Individual brilliance, collective effort

Throughout the World Cup, one of the things that had troubled India was the otherwise prolific batting unit not clicking together. One or two batter made big scores, but were ably not supported by the rest. A crucial wicket triggered collapses. Case in point: Punam Raut hit a fluent ton against Australia, but India scored only 226.

But on a day when not only Smriti Mandhana – whose strange slump after two impressive innings continues – but even Raut fell early, the onus was on the middle order to take up charge. A middle order that has not had enough match time this World Cup. A middle order that would have to play the bulk of the Powerplay. But Raj, who came in in the fourth over, and Harmanpreet , who had to walk in the eight, were up for it.

In turn, the Indian captain played both aggressor and sheet anchor as she played a free-flowing knocks with a strike rate never dipping the way it did against Australia. Raj was ccriticised for her overtly watchful batting in her 114-ball 69 the last game and her positive approach made sure that would not happen again.

En route her sixth ODI century – and first in three years – she formed two vital, 100-plus partnerships with Harmanpreet Kaur and Veda Krishnamurthy. Two vastly different stands in terms of approach, but each as effective is sealing India’s win. These three batters facing the bulk of the balls, batted responsibly and riskily as the moment allowed, supported each other, ran quick singles when the gaps weren’t available, and scored a well-balanced 266.

When India lost two wickets in the first two overs of the Batting Powerplay – Harmanpreet and Deepti Sharma –in walked Veda Krishnamurthy who went on to play a stunner of an innings that will be remembered for a long time: 70 runs from just 45 balls. A strike rate of 155. Seven fours. Two clean sixes. The fastest fifty by an Indian cricketer in a Woman’s World Cup.

Krishnamurthy is a fine example of the remarkable resolve India have displayed in this match. She was dropped after inconsistent performances but came back into the team for the match against Sri Lanka, and admitted that staying out of the team wasn’t easy. But as her blinder, that turned the momentum India’s way by the end of the first half showed, this gritty Indian team is making a habit out of bouncing back from disappointment.

In a potentially shaky chase, the bowling also stuck to plan for India.

Brought in a crunch game, Gayakwad bettered India’s best figures this World Cup – Ekta Bisht’s 5/18 against Pakistan – with her 5/15. But much before she came to bowl, India’s pace duo of Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey, bowling in rare tandem, had reduced the Kiwis to 7/2 using the movement the pitch offered. India’s pacers have not got long spells from both ends often this World Cup, but when they, both made the most of it by tying own the high-flying White Ferns.

The versatile Deepti Sharma, only 18, didn’t do anything with the bat but was her usual lethal self with the ball finishing on 2/26 and livewire in the field with the catch of the attacking Sophie Devine. Poonam Yadav struck in her first over as well, and the Indian bowling was so complete, Raj didn’t need the services of Harmanpreet, who was already nursing a finger injury. Even wicketkeeper Sushma Verma chipped in with a wonderful stumping and incessant, motivating chirping.

This was the collective effort one talks about in a team sport, built around individual brilliance. And it all came together for India at a time they needed it the most.

After the match , Raj called it a “perfect response” on Twitter.

In the end, it was the perfect storm for the White Ferns. There are only so many ways one can say a “do-or-die” or must-win match. Both teams knew the stakes, but not both could play them. Yes, New Zealand crumbled under pressure and didn’t give the level of fight expected of them. But this pressure was created by India’s tough batting and tight bowling, by the team that was supposed to go under first. In a match where few gave them a chance, India showed their immense is also tempered with temperament. In short, India showed that the importance of that phrase “Intent”.

With a difficult semi-final against Australia next, it is this deep-rooted intent that will power them as they try to ride the newfound momentum into the final.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

Watch Billions Now

2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

Watch Westworld Now

3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

Watch Big Little Lies Now

4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

Watch The Night Of Now

5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

Watch American Horror Story Now

6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

Watch Empire Now

7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

Watch Modern Family Now

8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

Watch The Deuce Now

9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

Available starting October

10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

Watch Rome Now

For your next obsession, Hotstar Premium has you covered with its wide collection of the most watched shows in the world. Apart from the ones we’ve recommended, Indian viewers can now easily watch other universally loved shows such as Silicon Valley and Prison Break, and movies including all titles from the Marvel and Disney universe. So take control of your life again post the Game of Thrones gloom and sign up for the Hotstar Premium membership here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.