The Indian women's cricket team returned to a rapturous welcome on Wednesday morning at the airport in Mumbai. The Mithali Raj-led side endured a highly successful campaign in the 2017 women's World Cup where they reached the final against England at Lord's. The 'Women in Blue' lost the final by nine runs.

On arrival, Mithali said: ""It is just the beginning of good times for women's cricket."

On her captaincy, Mithali added, "I can proudly say that I have led the team well. The captain is what the team is."

Earlier, the skipper had said that reaching the final was a game-changer for women's cricket and their success would translate into respect which their male counterparts enjoy apart from huge financial gains.

"We have done exceptionally well and I am sure it is different phase for women's cricket back in India," the 34- year-old said at a special reception hosted for the team by the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Y K Sinha, on Monday evening.

"Everybody will be looking at women's cricket from a different perspective and start respecting women cricketers equally as men cricketers and the opportunities and brands that will line up for the girls, it will be a different experience for all of them.

"It will help the future generation of girls to take up the sport. We have used this platform to build a very strong foundation for women cricketers in India so that it is one of the sports they can take this up as a career now," said Raj further.

India looked on course for their maiden triumph before a dramatic batting collapse dashed their hopes and they eventually lost to England by nine runs.

Raj, who was also named captain of the World Cup team by the International Cricket Council (ICC), said her team will take some time to recover from Sunday's loss.

"We still need some time to sink in the fact that the match was in our hands but eventually we could not turn it to the result that we wanted. But ultimately it's a sport, one wins and one loses.

"These girls, I am sure, will learn from the experience. In the coming years, in the T20 World Cup, you never know they might just pull off those victories and get us the cup," she said.

(With PTI inputs)
Feature image: PTI