ICC ODI World Cup 2023: Mithali Raj Sees Big Opportunity for India

Former Indian women’s cricket team captain, Mithali Raj, has expressed her conviction that the approaching ICC ODI World Cup 2023 could be a game-changer for the Men in Blue. India’s quest for the ODI World Cup title has been ongoing since their triumph in 2011. However, successive semifinal eliminations in 2015 and 2019 have kept the elusive trophy out of their grasp. With the added advantage of playing on home soil, the ICC ODI World Cup 2023 offers a significant prospect for Rohit Sharma’s team to break this streak and bring the title home.

A Decade of Near-Misses

India’s journey in international cricket over the past decade has been marked by several near-misses in major tournaments. Following their victory in the 2011 ODI World Cup, the team has consistently come close to clinching another ICC trophy but has fallen short. The closest India came to the title was in 2013 when they won the Champions Trophy under the leadership of MS Dhoni. Despite these opportunities, the team has not managed to secure a world title in over ten years.

Challenges in Different Formats

The challenges for the Indian cricket team have extended across various formats. In addition to the ODI World Cup semifinal exits, the team faced defeat in the T20 World Cup semifinals the previous year. Furthermore, they suffered defeats in the World Test Championship finals twice—first in 2021 and then earlier this year against Australia. These setbacks have highlighted the need for a breakthrough, and the upcoming ICC ODI World Cup 2023 could be the stage for that.

“As an Indian cricket fan, I would want India to play in the final. It is a big opportunity. We are the host nation and the conditions are in our favour.”

Mithali Raj, who holds the distinction of being the highest run-scorer in Women’s ODIs, has emphasized the advantageous home conditions for India. The familiarity with the pitches and the support of the crowd can provide the much-needed edge for the Indian team to make a title push in the tournament scheduled for October-November.

Mithali’s Own Journey

Mithali Raj’s own journey in international cricket has been remarkable. She captained the Indian Women’s team to the ODI World Cup final in 2017, a tournament in which they finished as runners-up to England. Drawing from her experience, Mithali’s insights into the dynamics of a World Cup campaign are invaluable.

Women’s Cricket and Its Potential

Mithali Raj believes that women’s cricket has a significant potential for growth in India. Over the past few years, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has made concerted efforts to promote the women’s game and support women players. The Women’s IPL (WIPL) has gained traction and contributed positively to the overall profile of women’s cricket in the country.

Mithali further stated, “The WIPL this year has also gone well and it is good for the sports profile. We hope that many players will come up from the state in the next two to three years.” This observation reflects the growing opportunities and pathways for young women cricketers to emerge from different regions of the country.

Positive Reception from Authorities

The initiative to promote women’s cricket has garnered support from various quarters. The Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha, praised the Women’s Premier League (WIPL) as a commendable effort. He expressed confidence in the potential of talented women cricketers in the region and highlighted the administration’s commitment to facilitating progress and development in diverse fields.

Manoj Sinha remarked, “I watched the match. I have said time and again that there is no dearth of talent (in the state). The Jammu and Kashmir Administration is making efforts to help girls progress in every field. I am sure that the next phase of development in Jammu and Kashmir will be led by women.”

Final Thoughts

The upcoming ICC ODI World Cup 2023 holds significant promise for India. As Mithali Raj rightly pointed out, the team’s performance in this tournament could pave the way for another shot at lifting the coveted World Cup trophy. The combination of playing at home and having a talented squad places India in a favorable position to seize this opportunity and end their decade-long wait for an ICC title.

With contributions from PTI

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