Following India's heartbreaking loss against England in the women's World Cup final, skipper Mithali Raj has called for an IPL for women to help prepare the cricketers for such pressure situations.
The champion's crown eluded Mithali's team for a second time but Indian captain believes future is bright for women's cricket in the country and a platform has been set for the coming generations.
India seemed on course for a maiden World Cup trophy but suffered a batting collapse, losing seven wickets for 28 runs to slip from 191-3 to 219 all out in 48.4 overs in a chase of 229 in the final against England at Lord's. But despite the heartbreak, the skipper said future seems good for India.
"These girls have really set the platform for the upcoming generations in India. They've opened up the channels for women's cricket and they should be really proud of themselves. I have seen the changes the girls have made," Raj said.
The 34-year-old Raj admitted her team failed to hold its nerve but said she was proud of the way it fought in the tournament.
"Everybody was very nervous and I think that resulted in our defeat. It's about experience and about how composed we are in the situation. The girls weren't experienced enough to do that, but the way they have fought through the tournament is heart-warming," said Raj.
"The India women's team has a bright future, we have very talented girls - it's just a matter of calculations, keeping your cool in the middle," she added.
She also took solace from the fact that the final went right down to the wire unlike the lopsided loss to Australia in the 2005 edition's summit clash.
"Unlike 2005 (when Australia hammered India by 98 runs in the final at Centurion, South Africa), this went to the end," said Raj, who became the all-time leading run-scorer in ODIs in women's cricket during the tournament.
India were going strong at one stage with Punam Raut (86) and Harmanpreet Kaur (51) at the crease. The duo shared a third-wicket stand of 95 but once the opener was dismissed, it all fell apart for the visitors.
"We messed it up in the end. It was a very brave innings from Punam. The partnership was very important and the two really built the innings," said Raj.
"The lower-middle order needs to contribute, that has been a concern for a long time, batting is important and something everyone needs to do."
The skipper acknowledged that Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) participation helped Smriti Mandhana and Kaur improve as player and asserted that a similar platform in India will be immensely beneficial.
"The WBBL has given exposure to the two girls who have played (Mandhana and Kaur). If more girls participate in such leagues, it will give them experience and help them to improve their own game.
"If you ask me, they should have (women's) IPL because now is the right time to create that base," added the 34- year-old Raj, who also made it clear that it would be her last World Cup.
Feature image: Reuters