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From heartbreak to jubilation: How Nooshin inspired India's next-gen to glory

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Last updated on 30 Jan 2023 | 04:03 AM
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From heartbreak to jubilation: How Nooshin inspired India's next-gen to glory

18 years later, the Indian coach finally managed to erase the scars of the World Cup defeat in South Africa

"This is a moment we've waited for a very long time."

As these words resonated through television sets across the globe, my mind rallies back instantly to the summit clash of the World Cup in 2005 in this very nation as Australia recorded an emphatic 98-run win to clinch the title.ย 

The Australian players celebrated their win and deservedly so, but there was a young player in the Indian team, Nooshin Al Khadeer, who was silently soaking in all the emotions in the background as the Women in Blue stumbled at the final hurdle.ย 

While the Women in Blue fell agonisingly close to the title in 2005, it inspired a 12-year-old kid in me to take up the sport and emulate the heroics of my idols.ย 

Despite creating a revolution back home through their spirited performances at the mega event, Nooshin was well aware that her dream along with million other people was unfulfilled.ย 

18 years passed by to this very evening in Centurion, and India were yet to win a World Cup.ย 

While the off-spinner bid adieu to the sport almost a decade ago, she continued to serve the game as a coach and mentor to various domestic teams around the nation with a solitary dream - to help India win that elusive title.ย 

12 months of blood, sweat and gruelling sessions with the Under-19 team in their road to the final match of the inaugural World Cup, it was time for live-action to commence in the land of the Proteas.ย 

The Women in Blue won the toss and opted to field first against England, and there were surely plenty of nerves for both sides as they stepped onto the field with history beckoning.ย 

"Dhyaan rakhna aur apna 100 percent dena," were the final words of Shafali Verma in the team huddle before India walked out in the middle.ย 

In the next 75 minutes that followed, fans across the globe witnessed the talent and depth of the Indian side as the next generation of players displayed exhilarating fielding skills to dismantle England's batting unit for just 68 runs in the first innings.ย 

Despite being a modest total on the board, there is always pressure during a run chase of a knockout game, especially in the final. To make things a little worse, the Women in Blue stuttered in the powerplay as they lost Shafali and Shweta Sehrawat early.ย 

As Soumya Tiwari and Gongadi Trisha steadied the innings by accumulating the ones and the twos, the nerves started to ease as India could see the finish line.ย 

En route to the 46-run stand for the third wicket, the duo ensured India were inches close to creating history.ย 

And as Soumya punched the final ball of the 14th over for a single, the players rushed onto the field to celebrate what will go down as a watershed moment in the history of Indian cricket.ย 

While the camera panned towards the players, there was a certain Nooshin sitting in the dugout, grinning from ear to ear to see her daydream turn into a reality by a bunch of very passionate young kids.ย 

"From the National anthem till the time we won, we had goosebumps. To live it from the young girls is commendable," she said in the post-match interaction.ย 

There ain't any doubt that there will be a plethora of emotions in the Indian camp, and it only highlights how much it means to them as a journey that started almost a year ago with numerous practice games and international series has finally reached its desired destination.

"We were here to win the World Cup, and we did it," said Shafali as she tried hard not to break down in the post-match presentation.ย 

1.2 billion people glued to their television sets shed a tear as the Indian skipper tried to explain this incredible feeling.ย 

Little did she know, it wasn't a feeling anymore, it was an emotion that scripted a new leaf in the glorious history of Indian cricket.ย 

Somewhere around the nation, there is now a young girl wanting to play the sport and emulate the Under-19 stars.

History was rewritten all over again in Potchefstroom.ย 

For a young 19-year-old who has created a niche for herself in the international arena, the past month will surely be the highlight of her career, but the swashbuckling opener has her eyes set on another world title in the next month.ย 

"No, the big one also,โ€ Shafali said on being asked if this is the only trophy she wants from South Africa.ย 

As women's sport, rather women's cricket, is heading into an exciting time ahead with the T20 World Cup and the inaugural edition of the Women's Premier League, there is a sense of deja vu surrounding the events that changed Indian cricket.

A young MS Dhoni-led Indian side created history by winning the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007, a couple of months before the Indian Premier League.ย 

15 years later, Shafali Verma captained the team to a World Cup a couple of months before the Women's Premier League in that very nation.ย 

As Shafali and wicketkeeper-batter Richa Ghosh soak in the celebrations and join the senior team beaming with confidence, the duo must be credited for laying the foundation for a revolution back in India.ย 

And as fans of cricket, this World Cup triumph is indeed the start of something incredibly special for Indian cricket.ย 

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