Guiding the ball past the point fielder, Soumya Tiwari ran frantically for the winning run that ensured India’s seven-wicket win over England in the U-19 T20 World Cup final in Potchefstroom, South Africa.
Midway through her run, she raised her arms and waved towards the dressing room.
Coach Nooshin Al Khadeer somehow managed to say: “This is a moment we’ve waited for very long… we have a very good future.”
In every facet of the game, they were miles ahead of the opponents. By the end of fourth over, new-ball bowlers Titas Sadhu and Archana Devi had England reeling at 16/3. Rattled by efficient spin-bowling on a slow track, England floundered, and eventually were wrapped up for a meagre 68 in 17.1 overs.
The aggression was relentless—Sadhu swung the ball wickedly into right-handed batsmen, Archana would tease them with her loopy off-breaks and delicious dip. Leg-spinner Parshavi Chopra, whose daily watch includes dozens of Shane Warne videos, tormented the English with her drift and turn. The left-arm spin twins of Mannat Kashyap and Sonam Sharma frustrated with stifling lengths.
The fielders would throw their body into the pitch, even on the shaved, grassless part of ground used as practice wickets. Both Trisha Gongadi, who scored a valuable 24, and Archana snaffled two stunning catches that would have made some of South Africa’s legendary fielders proud.
For the players, parents, relatives and coaches, it is the culmination of a journey of sweat and tears, of hope and will.
The last half a decade has seen women’s cricket unshackle from the clutches of mediocrity. In the last two editions of the senior T20 World Cup, India emerged semi finalists and finalists. But this evening in Potchefstroom, Soumya perhaps ran the most important run not only in her life or her teammates, but also in the history of women’s cricket in the country.
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