Girls in Blue take stage first

FP

Till then, the only sounds resonating around the Brabourne Stadium were that of West Indies' power-hitters, Deandra Dottin and Stefanie Taylor, smashing the leather off the ball. The rest of the visiting crew, their sky-blue practice uniforms creating a soothing ambience, went about their routines with little fuss. Suddenly from the confines of the Cricket Club of India (CCI), emerged a boisterous red army chitter-chattering their way across the lawn. The Indian women's team then got into huddle before announcing their arrival with a shrill yet cacophonous group shriek, one that not only caught the attention of their opening World Cup opponents but also sent the pigeons in the area scurrying for safety.

Leading the noisy congregation from the front was the lithe figure of skipper Mithali Raj, who just minutes ago had finished briefing the media about her team's plans leading up to the big event on home soil. Not too far from her was the beanstalk figure of Jhulan Goswami as always towering over her colleagues, making them look even more pint-sized than they actually are.

Old hands

The odd-sized couple have after all been the poster-girls of Indian women's cricket for close to a decade now. And not for the first time, Raj and Goswami will once again have to shoulder the load of their team's fortunes on the grandest stage, starting with the curtain-raiser against the girls from the Caribbean at Brabourne on Thursday. Such has been the dominance of the duo with bat and ball respectively over the last many years that the rest of the faces in the team have overall remained anonymous. Just like they did in the huddle on Wednesday.

The ICC Women's World Cup, now into its 10th edition, will once again be about the world's best women cricketers trying to create their own identity in a field dominated by their male counterparts. Even within this Indian team, the tournament could well be the best platform for the many unacknowledged names to finally climb out of the shadows of their foremost colleagues.

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