So near and yet so far. Team India was left just nine runs short of lifting the Women's World Cup title against England at the Lord's cricket ground on Sunday. It could have been the first World Cup triumph for the Women in Blue, but losing the last seven wickets for 28 runs and wilting under pressure in the final halted Mithali Raj and Co's progress towards bringing the coveted trophy home. This was India's second essay into the Women's World Cup final, the first having come in 2005. However, their attempt this time around was way better. India captain Mithali admitted that the team caved in under pressure in a tense run chase but said they will walk out as a proud bunch.
"Yes, I'm proud of the team. It wasn't easy for England but credit to them for keeping their nerves. There was a time where the match was in the balance, but we panicked and that led to our defeat," Mithali said after the match.
"I'm very proud of the girls. They didn't make any match look easy for the other team. We did very well in the tournament. All the youngsters in the team tried their best," she added.
Asked about her future, she said, "I will definitely play for a couple of years more, but I don't see myself playing the next World Cup."
On Jhulan Goswami, who took three wickets to restrict England to 228 for 7, she said, "Jhulan is an experienced bowler and has always delivered when the team has needed her to. It could've been a match-winning performance, but I knew England have depth.
"Thank you to the crowd for turning up for a women's cricket final. This is a huge boost for all the women cricketers. I'm sure this experience will help the players.
"Now, people back home will have a different perspective about women's cricket," she added.
England were ecstatic after winning their fourth World Cup. Captain Heather Knight's side were beaten by India in the first game of the tournament, but steadily improved to top the eight-team group, including beating defending champions Australia.
After the match, Knight said she "can't stop smiling".
"We knew that if we stayed on till the end and brought the rate up over five or six an over, we would be in the game," an elated Knight said.
"We have won those tight games which is something we have worked on in the last 18 months. We have worked on situations where the heat is on us and looked to come up on top."
The home skipper did not forget to praise gritty Indians. "They were batting brilliantly, credit to them, they've had a great tournament.
"A huge thank you to the crowds as well for coming up in large numbers and supporting us. Women's cricket keeps growing from strength to strength and all teams have shown that," she concluded.
(With PTI inputs)