Kapil Dev ‘biggest fan’ of the Indian women’s team

“These girls travelling to Lord’s gave me goosebumps really,” India’s World Cup winning captain said.

Kapil Dev... “India’s achievement will motivate thousands to take to cricket.”   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

“For me you are already the champions. Such performances have to be documented in golden letters,” said former India all-rounder Kapil Dev, in a message to the Indian women cricketers who lost a pulsating World Cup final to England on Sunday.

A momentous day at Lord’s in 1983 had changed the face of Indian cricket. No one had backed Kapil’s team. Not too many had faith in Mithali’s girls either. Kapil’s team wrote history. Mithali’s emergent team nearly emulated the feat.

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“India winning in 1983 was fine. It was about the team. That is history,” Kapil said.

“Reaching the final was a big achievement in itself. They overcame the best of teams and set new benchmarks. These girls travelling to Lord’s gave me goosebumps, really. What a sight! It means the world to the girl child campaign in India.”

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The runner-up finish, Kapil said, should change people’s outlook towards girls pursuing sports careers.

“Athletics, badminton and tennis have had icons to inspire young women. But hardly 500 girls play cricket seriously. This achievement will motivate thousands to take to cricket, and that to me is the greatest gain from this World Cup. Every girl who wants to play professional sport would be treated with respect now,” he said.

'Revolution'

A doting father himself, Kapil said: “Our daughters tackle pressures at school so well that they breeze through when they go to university. I have a daughter, and I understand the anxiety of a parent when it comes to letting their daughter become a sportsperson. They shackle the girls from the time they are born.

“But look at (P.V.) Sindhu, Sania (Mirza), Saina (Nehwal), Sakshi (Malik), Deepa (Malik), Dipa (Karmakar)... They have triggered revolutions in their sport.

“Mithali’s team too has won the hearts of the nation. I know that not every daughter will become a champion, but I am sure the mindset of parents is bound to change now. The next generation of girls will receive whole-hearted support so that it will be more athletic and strong when competing at the world level.”

Describing the cricketers’ journey as “painful and joyful”, Kapil said: “It is painful because of the hardships they endure at home and in the public for wanting to play. It becomes joyful when they emerge shining role models.

“Honestly, I was not a keen follower of women’s cricket, but I am their biggest fan now. I have lot of respect for these kids. I am sure, after watching the women’s cricket team, people will pray to be blessed with daughters. Hats off to them.”

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