Today’s Scenario: Mithali Raj Lifts the 2017 Cricket World Cup
In our segment Just Imagine, we explore how a specific moment in cricket could have lasting ripple effects. Going back in time, we ask a simple question: What Would Happened if…? and reflect on its consequences.
Since the Women T20 Challenge is in full flow among the teams—Trailblazers, Velocity, and the Supernovas, we imagine what would have happened if India had not collapsed against England in the 2017 Cricket World Cup Final?
The 2017 Cricket World Cup was a watershed moment in several ways for women’s cricket. It was widely broadcasted and viewed, the matches were highly competitive, several remarkable individual performances were on show, and to cap it off—an intense final.
The hosts were favorite to win the trophy, while India captured the imagination of the world during the tournament.
In the group stages, India had won 5/7 games while brushing Australia aside in the semi-finals thanks to Harmanpreet Kaur’s magnificent 171*—maybe the best world cup innings by an Indian in a semi-final, certainly in the last decade. On the other hand, England squeaked past the Proteas with 2 balls to spare. Their only defeat in the tournament coming at the hand of India via Smriti Mandana’s elegant 90.
The final was a classic low-scoring thriller. Ebbs and flows throughout.
England scored 228/7. In response, Mandana and Raj fell cheaply before Punam Raut and Kaur stabilized and registered 50s.
Chasing 229, India are sitting comfortably at 191-3.
38 needed off 44 balls. Punam Raut 86* (114), Veda Krishnamurthy 28* (28). Then, next ball, there is an appeal for LBW…
What Actually Happened:
42. 5 Shrubsole to Raut OUT:
Punam has asked for a review but the umpire says sorry, you took too long.Do England have wink of an opportunity? This was the wrong shot. Length ball sliding in from wide of the crease, Punam plays all around the delivery. Looked to work it square when he could’ve played in down the ground. Hit on the knee roll. That would’ve gone on to hit the stumps. Has she done enough though?
If Punam Raut had straight batted the shot, or if the DRS review was called in time, and the decision (magically) overturned, what would have happened?
Punam Raut hits an unbeaten century in the final. Veda seals the deal with an exquisite six.
Jhulam Goswami, the star with 3 wickets on the final, and captain Mithali Raj retire as World Cup winners. The 2017 squad return as legends. Their stories now etched in stone along with the 1983 and 2011.
The BCCI want to capitalize as usual.
They have a template—2007 T20 World Cup and the 2008 IPL. Upon the Indian men’s victory, the experiment of IPL turned into an unprecedented success, changing the global cricket game forever.
They have an opportunity again.
The Women’s IPL launches in 2018. All the world cup heroes are in their prime. Raj captains the Chennai Super Kings, Harmanpreet the marquee player for Kings XI Punjab, and Mandhana starring for the Mumbai Indians. With foreign players such as Heather Knight, Nat Sciver, and the world’s greatest Ellyse Perry, the WIPL is a financial and global success.
This T20 experience gained helps Indian women win the 2020 T20 World Cup defeating Australia in their background in front of a 86,174 crowd at the MCG.
Reflection – Inaction Trumps Imagination
Well, things did not turn out that way, did it?
Winning and losing is part and parcel of the game. Yes, one moment can change histories, but sometimes if action is taken in the right time, it could pay dividends as well.
India’s performance had already delighted audiences around the world and Goswami-Mithali-Harmanpreet-Mandana were household names.
Why then, has the WIPL not been put into action?
It did not need to be an 8 team tournament. A 5-6 team tournament would be wonderful as well. In 3 years, teams would have stabilized, rivalries and fanbase would have fostered, and ultimately, women’s cricket would have benefitted.
Instead, we are watching the 3rd T20 Women’s challenge as an afterthought of a 56 match exhausting Men’s IPL, just taking a break before the Playoffs. Meanwhile, most of the foreign players like Heather Knight, Alyssa Healy, and Ellyse Perry are employing their trade at the WBBL, and we are just waiting for the Hundredfor a competitive world T20 women’s league.
With the likes of Shefali Verma, Deepti Sharma, and Jemimah Rodrigues, India’s future is still bright, but by the time WIPL commences, India women’s stars would have already retired.
At the 2019 Cricket World Cup (CWC) held in England, all 10 teams played against each other. In the 29th match at Manchester, New Zealand faced the mighty West Indies. Until that point of the tournament, West Indies had won 1, lost 3, and 1 no-result. New Zealand, on the other hand, were unbeaten with 4 wins and 1 no-result. With each team having 4 games in hand, the tournament was still wide open.
Chasing 291, West Indies collapsed to 164-7.
Comes in Carlos Brathwaite. Remember his name? Braithwaite and the tail launches a remarkable comeback. Twists and turns, wickets fall, spectators at the edge of their seats.
Brathwaite hits 3 consecutive sixes in the 48th over. Brathwaite scores his maiden ODI century. Brathwaite can do no wrong.
Brathwaite’s dream is alive. One wicket left, West Indies need 6 off 7 balls, Brathwaite on strike. Surely, it is their game now…
What Actually Happened:
The dynamic duo of Brathwaite and commentator, Ian Bishop, from that 2016 T20 World Cup final are back together. Jimmy Neesham runs it and bowls a short ball, Brathwaite heaves, and Trent Boult is near the boundary. (Yes, the same Trent Boult who would later do this in the Final). All you can see is the ball in the blue sky.
Ball comes down. Gravity happens. Boult catches it. West indies 286-10. New Zealand win with an over to spare.
Ian Bishop exclaims, “New Zealand win! The dream is diminished for Carlos Brathwaite here in Manchester!”
This is the turning point of the tournament. New Zealand go to the top the table. They qualify for the semi finals due to net run-rate despite losing 3 against Pakistan, England, and Australia. West Indies lose momentum and would eventually crash out at 9th place.
If Carlos Brathwaite had managed to hit the ball a yard further, or if Boult had lost his balance, what would have happened?
48.6 – Neesham to Brathwait, SIX!
Has he done it? Yes! Boult tips the ball over the boundary at long on for six. West Indies wins.
West Indies wins, joins the middle-muddle in the Points Table, and sprints to the semi-finals. New Zealand lose momentum and fail to qualify for the semi-finals.
It is England vs West Indies in the finals. Stokes batting vs Brathwaite bowling final over—a reversal of fortunes from 2016. Stokes attempts to take his revenge. 15 needed from 6.
49.1 – Six, 49.2 – Six. He wants to finish with 3 sixes and complete the revenge.
49.3 – OUT! One shot too many. Still 3 needed from 3.
49.4 – 1, 49.5 – 0, 49.6 – Run OUT!
West Indies win by one run! West Indies have won by the barest of margins. By the barest of all margins.
Brathwaite’s dream is realized. Carlos Brathwaite is the Man of the Match. He is hailed as the best all-rounder of the century. Stokes is dropped from the England squad. Eoin Morgan plays out the rest of his career for Ireland.
Jofra Archer returns to the Barbados. He spearheads the West Indies attack.
West Indies returns to its glory days.
Inspired by Conversations with Vandit Trivedi and ESPNCricinfo’s Alternate Universe series.
Today’s Scenario: Freddie Flintoff Keeps His CoolTo Yuvraj Singh
England vs India, 19th September 2007, Durban, South Africa – Super 8s (2007 T20 World Cup)
After crashing out of the 2007 ODI World Cup, India had sent a young team to South Africa under MS Dhoni. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Sourav Ganguly had opted out with India experimenting with a younger team. New Zealand and South Africa were sitting comfortably in the Super 8 group, England were already out, and India needed to win to stay alive.
Andrew Flintoff exchanged a few words with Yuvraj Singh prior to the 18th over, when Yuvraj was still playing on 14 runs. India – 171/3.
What Actually Happened:
Enter the young lad, Stuart Broad. Next, we witnessed history. With the adrenaline rush, Yuvraj hits 6,6,6,6,6, and 6. Smashes it to all parts of the ground, with Ravi Shashtri’s iconic commentary in the background. Yuvraj scores the fastest T20 half century in 12 balls, and India end up with 218/4. England come close with 200/6. Yuvraj carries the form in the semi-finals a couple of matches later and destroys Australia with 70 (30). As an underdog team, India are crowned the world champions in the inaugural T20 World Cup.
If Andrew Flintoff had kept his cool and not said anything to Yuvraj Singh, what would have happened?
18.1 – Stuart Broad to Yuvraj Singh, hits it in the air and gets caught at long off.
India scratch their way up to 185/5. England chase comfortably. India crashes out of the 2007 T20 World Cup. Australia win yet another world cup in the decade, this time the T20 World Cup.
The proposed Indian Premier League (IPL) is discarded. Stuart Broad becomes a star and goes on to take 500 wickets in limited overs cricket. Andrew Flintoff captains England to the the 2010 T20 World Cup win. This starts a new cricket revolution in England which attracts the best players from all over the world—The Hundred. Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni are dropped post-2007, never to make a comeback. Without a spinning all-rounder, a world-class finisher, or a Captain Cool in their side, India fails to win the 2011 Cricket World Cup at home.
Ominous, isn’t it?
Well, these are just my thoughts on the importance of that moment.
As mathematician Edward Lorenz implied in his remarkable work that is now known as the “Butterfly Effect,”— even a flap of a butterfly’s wings can cause a tornado in another part of the world. Every single action, no matter how big or small, may have an immense impact down the road.
But anyway, what do you think would have happened had this match turned out differently?
Send us some moments you would like us to imagine, and as always, please subscribe, write in comments below and share!
Check out our next article in the Just Imagine series regarding Carlos Brathwaite in the 2019 Cricket World Cup.